Skip to main content
Internet Archive's 25th Anniversary Logo

Full text of "Paper chase; the amenities of stamp collecting"

See other formats



The Amenities of Stamp Collecting 


Center: President Roosevelt. Reading clockwise from top 
center: Carol II and Marie of Roumania; George V, 
Edward VIII and George VI of Great Britain; Wil- 
helmina of Holland, Alexander III of Russia, Alfonso 
XIII of Spain, Porfirio Diaz of Mexico, Victor Em- 
manuel III of Italy and Manuel of Portugal. 




























ACKNOWLEDGMENT . . . . . 341 

INDEX ... . . v ; . . . . 343 


World rulers who are or have been philatelists Frontis. 

What often happened to your letters in pre-envelope PAGE 

days 22 

Rowland Hill and the first postage stamp 23 

An American postman of 1865 33 

J. Walter Scott and his store in 1878 38 

Crystal Palace, Winfield Scott and Elihu Burritt En- 
velopes 39 

An American Post Office of 1860 54 

A $20,000 page. The August issue of 1861 55 

United States revenue inverted centers 70 

Inverted centers of the world 71 

Numerous concerns sell stamps by the pound 94 

Post office at Albano, Papal States, 1850 95 

Modern post office at Vatican City 95 

Old Dutch Church Post Office, New York City 102 

Our first two stamps, the 5 and 10 cent of 1847 103 

Dealers' advertising frames in Nassau Street 118 

World's highest and lowest post offices: summit of 

the Jungfrau and Sea Floor off Bahamas 119 

Great collectors 134 

The seven United States inverted centers 135 

Senator Mead and his stamp collection 150 

Rare stamps stored in specially built safes 151 

Envelopes of Western expresses 190 




A Gold-Rush mining town post office 191 

Transferring mail on Union Pacific in 1876 191 

The smallest post office, Searsburg, Vermont 214 

Early R.F.D. wagon used in Mississippi 214 

Oddities in envelope corner cards 215 

Dockwra's Postmarks 225 

Curious home-made cancellations 227 

Grotesque home-made cancellations 233 

Cancellations on New York ship mail, 1871-76 237 
Congressman franking laundry home to be washed 251 
Jackson, Franklin, Hancock and Washington franks 262 

President Grant frank 263 

Samples of specialized stamp collections 278 
Hand-painted covers autographed by world rulers 279 

Order book of Butler & Carpenter 294 

A match stamp page from Holcombe album 295 

Envelope from Lundy Island with curious local 

stamps 302 

Balloon and zinc ball letters, Paris, 1871 303 

Graf Zeppelin 'Round-the-World envelope 303 

Civil War patriotic envelopes 310 

Rare air-mail letters 311 

Stamps in sheets bought as speculation 326 

Expert checking perforations on a stamp 326 

Scenes at annual spring stamp fair in London 327 

Children's stamp bourse, Paris, 1875 329 

The Amenities of Stamp Collecting 


THREE of us, including a 
^ i_ i_ j 
young author who had mst 
J O 

written a best-selling novel, 

were talking together not so long ago. The third man drew 
a folder of paper matches from his pocket to light a ciga- 
rette. The author's eyes shone at sight of it and he uttered 
a glad cry: "Gosh, there's a new one! May I have it, please? 
I'll give you another one for it!" Believe it or not, the man 
who had written a novel which delighted tens of thousands 
of readers was himself a collector of books paper match 
books. . . . 

There are very few persons incapable of becoming inter- 
ested in hobbies. I have known men who in their youth 
were total strangers to them but who became intrigued 
by one in middle or older life and went perfectly, gloriously 
nutty over it. As for collecting, there is no telling how or 
when it began. Perhaps old man Neanderthal had a ledge 
full of skulls or lethal clubs or some fine pelts which he 
liked to drape over a rock, one by one, and bore a new 
acquaintance with: "Now, this big wolf I killed with my 
bare hands right up the gulch yender to your left. It was 
a cold, frosty morning" and so on and on. 

Our American Indians' collections of enemy scalps, their 
strings of teeth and quills and bear claws, were all for van- 


ity's sake pride in prowess and personal adornment. To 
collect things for their own sake required the objective 
touch of civilization. Wealthy Romans of the empire 
period picked up gems or vases or sculpture in a desultory 
way collecting beauty and costliness and an occasional 
fine library. Yet we do not find in Classic times the urge 
to collect because of oddity, rarity, or historic significance, 
nor yet the compulsion to assemble everything belonging 
to a certain category. That was another step, one which 
developed centuries later, and is only seen at its best today 
in the accumulation of old books, coins and stamps. 
The editor of Young England remarked in 1862: 

The use and charm of collecting any kind of object 
is to educate the mind and the eye to careful observa- 
tion, accurate comparison and just reasoning on the 
differences and likenesses which they present and to 
interest the collector in the design or art shewn in the 
creation or manufacture, and the history of the coun- 
try which produces or uses the object collected. 

So that's why people collect match folders and milk- 
bottle caps! 

It is a curious and significant fact that there was little 
collecting of any sort in America up to 1850 or '60. A 
gentleman in Connecticut in the later eighteenth century 
who assembled a modest assortment of "natural speci- 
mens" became quite a celebrity thereby, and if present aca- 
demic customs had prevailed then, he would have been 
LL.D., D.Sc., a National Academician and a member of a 
dozen learned societies in no time. Natural specimens- 
geology, botany, zoology were about all that anyone could 
think of as collectors' material then. Over in England, boys 
went in for that sort of thing. An English school principal 


wrote to the papers in 1860, saying that he had just learned 
that some of his pupils were collecting postage stamps, that 
he thought it a very educational and meritorious pastime, 
and wanting to know why there were no dealers issuing 
printed lists of stamps, as there were of birds' eggs, shells, 
butterflies and other natural specimens. He was very soon 
to be gratified. 

Up to the middle of the nineteenth century, Americans 
had been too busy getting a foothold in the wilderness, 
building a government, establishing commerce and indus- 
try and accumulating some necessary personal dollars to 
think of hobbies. A few small public museums mostly 
paintings or badly stuffed birds and animals were func- 
tioning on starveling endowments, but private collections 
of anything, even of birds' eggs, were almost as scarce as 
hens' teeth. But when the west, in 1849 and afterwards, 
began pouring gold and then silver into the national blood 
stream, some folk began finding a little more leisure on 
their hands, a little more money to spend on something 
else than the bare necessities of life. In other words, our 
standard of living began rising more rapidly, and hobbies 
began to be bora. New-made millionaires were looking 
around for paintings and not-too-naked statues. Numis- 
matics began to flourish, then stamp collecting. 

Today, less than ninety years after the Gold Rush, we 
are the most indefatigable nation of collectors in the 
world because, say our critics, we have the acquisitive 
tendency most fully developed. We collect everything. 
Look at this recently published three-hundred-page book 
on the collection of street-car transfers; discussing with a 
gravity worthy a scientific treatise such subjects as dating, 
types, condition, coloring, reversibility, the forming, ar- 
rangement, and indexing of the collection, and so on! And 


what old timer doesn't remember those first souvenir or 
picture post cards at the World's Fair at Chicago in 1893, 
and the resulting fad which raged violently for years? fat 
albums with slotted pages for holding the cards, young 
people soliciting acquaintances in distant parts of the coun- 
try with whom to exchange cards, and that unofficial lexi- 
cographic outrage, "philocarty!" Why, there was even a 
magazine of Philately and Philocarty. 

Glance over a copy of The Swapper, published (at least, 
it was being published not so long ago) out in Missouri: 
"A Monthly Newspaper," so the masthead informs us, 
"Devoted to the Interest of Swappers and Hobbiests." 
(Just raise an eyebrow at the spelling of that final word and 
let it go. ) Here you see the want ads of collectors not only 
of stamps, coins, Indian relics, dolls and clocks, but of 
milk-bottle caps, foreign and domestic hotel baggage la- 
bels, meteorites, deer horns but listen: "Will swap butter- 
flies, moths, living cocoons, pupae, moth eggs." One ad- 
vertiser, verily, wants to buy a petrified man. Another has 
"button charm, string, 112 feet long, started about 1830. 
5,004 buttons, no two alike. Will trade for Indian bead 
work, sinew sewn or what have you?" Or as another adver- 
tiser says gruffly: "Describe. Watcha want. Write." An- 
other wants "a native plant or shrub from every state in 
the U. S. A.; also foreign countries." Of such are the di- 
vertissements which keep us from going crazy in these 
trying times. 

There are inspiration stories in this paper, too; such as 
the one about the man with a nose for antiques like that 
of a French pig for truffles, who was prowling in an old 
grocery store basement when he discovered two barrels of 
oil-lamp chimneys "beautifully flowered and engraved and 
of Civil War vintage." He bought them for twenty cents 


apiece and promptly sold them to antique fans for $2.50 
which should be a lesson to all us prowlers to leave no 
cellar, attic closet, cupboard, barn, woodshed or deserted 
house unsearched. 

Odd how national customs and habits differ! In France 
and England in the iSyo's many children were enthusiastic 
stamp collectors. In France, even the little girls went in for 
it. In this country, they have never to this day become 
greatly interested, and boys with the exception of a few 
well-to-do chaps in the east who went to private academies 
did not take it up to any extent until the twentieth cen- 
tury, because not until this century did any except those 
academy swells have any pocket money to speak of. Being 
nearer to the land then, youngsters in general had plenty 
to eat and serviceable clothes to cover them, and even a 
little cash to devote to amusement, but most children did 
much less spending on their own then than now. 

Without money, for a long time there didn't seem to be 
much that boys could collect. An occasional small-town or 
country lad collected birds' eggs which eventually taught 
him American ornithology but most boys just assembled 
a miscellany of marbles, string, crippled penknives, old 
keys, ornamental buttons, bits of pencil and chalk, nickel- 
plated knobs off the parlor stove and unidentifiable frag- 
ments which might have been the unearthings of an archae- 
ological expedition on the site of Ur of the Chaldees, the 
entire assortment being carried in the owner's various pock- 
ets wherever he went. But how the picture has changed in 
recent years! Boys scarcely able to walk without holding on 
to something are beginning to accumulate stamps. An in- 
fant approximately three feet tall whom we saw looking 
over the limited stock of stamps in a small stationer's shop 
informed us gravely that "I specialize in British colonials." 


Today, stamp collecting, though not yet quite a century 
old, is the number-one hobby of the globe. Uncounted 
millions are its devotees. No country is so backward, no isle 
of the sea so small and remote that it does not have its 
stamp collectors, and usually its philatelic club. Probably 
more money is invested in philately, or is spent on it annu- 
ally than upon all other hobbies combined. Kings, queens, 
princes, presidents, governors, statesmen, the clergy, the 
law, medicine, education, the arts, scientists, bankers, big 
and little business men, housewives, school children it 
claims its followers among them all. The Indian rajah in 
his palace, the pedant in his cloistered study, the priest in 
his vicarage, the millionaire in his great town or country 
house, the truck driver or clerk in his cottage or three-room 
tenement, each pores over his album with the same zest 
and devotion. To the soldier in barracks, the naval or 
merchant-marine officer confined to his ship, to any iso- 
lated soul it is a godsend, filling otherwise dull and lonely 
hours with pleasant occupation and study. 

The stamp collector's progress from beginner to addict 
falls, like the melancholy Jacques's chronicle of man, into 
several stages. First usually in his teens he buys a small 
album and orders various ten-cent assortments "1,000 all 
different, catalogue value, $2.37." He haunts the display 
cases in department or stationery stores and outside the 
stamp dealers' doors. Presently he begins taking stamp 
periodicals and joins a club. Within a few years he is not 
satisfied with a used stamp detached from the envelope, 
but craves the envelope, too he calls it a "cover" now. He 
falls a victim to the first-day fad and has a cover always 
ready to be mailed from the point of issuance of a new 
stamp. He has already acquired a specialty of some sort- 
perhaps two or three of them. When he begins carrying a 


small magnifying glass in his pocket with which to scruti- 
nize stamps, his case may be regarded as hopeless. 

He now refuses to touch valuable stamps with the fin- 
gers because of possible soilure or greasing, but deftly picks 
them up with a pair of tiny tongs. He has developed an 
abnormal sensitivity to delicate nuances of color in inks. 
Looking at a stamp through his glass, he is apt to become 
highly excited over an infinitesimal break which he dis- 
covers in a hair line, invisible to the naked eye, in the 
lower left-hand corner. Such reactions are found only in a 
truly chronic case. He soothes himself by carrying around 
in his pocket (as a rheumatic man used to carry a buckeye) 
a wallet of particular build in which, under glassine, are two 
or three cherished covers. The patient can now be kept 
alive only by occasional injections of new specimens, and 
frequent hot stove sessions with other sufferers. I am told 
by those who have sojourned at the Battle Creek Sani- 
tarium that perhaps the favorite subject there for parlor 
and veranda conversation is the colon. Even so, two or 
more philatelists cannot be together for two minutes with- 
out talking of their malady. But strangely enough, they 
seem happier than most normal persons, and increasingly 
happy as their condition grows more pronounced. As that 
comic character of three decades ago used to chortle, "Gee, 
ain't it great to be crazy!" 

I was a born collector, and I have indulged in various 
types of such pursuits, beginning with tobacco tags and 
then stamps in very early youth. I have gone in for old 
books and first editions in a modest way, I have collected 
various kinds of prints; and even in middle life, when, as 
some friends thought, I should have known better, I most 
frequently in company with some other mental case have 
walked to and fro, to and fro, for hours under a broiling 


sun in the rows of a Tennessee river-bottom cornfield- 
richest of all hunting grounds for such treasure my eyes 
searching the soil, inch by inch, for Cherokee arrow heads, 
celts, skinning knives, shards and discoidal stones. And I 
must admit that stamp collecting has, from several points 
of view, superiorities over them all. 

To begin with, the stamp is far less destructible than 
cameos, paintings, prints, first editions, fine bindings. Prop- 
erly handled, a stamp may almost last forever. Again, it 
occupies the least space of any collector's item. You could 
conceivably put a million dollars' worth of rare stamps, if 
you had all the best rarities, in the space of one book on 
your library shelf; an important consideration in these days 
when our living quarters are steadily shrinking in size. Col- 
lectors will have to think henceforth in terms of smaller 
things. I once knew a Pennsylvania lawyer who collected 
tools of all trades and occupations, especially of colonial 
and pre-machine-age days including old agricultural and 
household implements, animal traps and what not and 
even went in especially strong for millstones! He had con- 
verted an old stone barn on his country place into a mu- 
seum, but even it couldn't hold the millstones; so there 
they were out of doors in rows, a sort of small-scale Stone- 

Another value of stamp collecting is its relationship to 
geography and history, its current gossip of the globe we 
live on and its political changes. Again, stamps do not de- 
teriorate in value as and I know this to my sorrow do 
old books. There are waves of style in old books. A few 
years ago Dickens and Thackeray first editions in the 
monthly parts brought fancy prices. Now they are out of 
favor and have fallen to a tithe of their former price, the 
American collector's interest turning to Mark Twain and 


other American first editions. The man with a lot of old 
English stuff on his hands now will find if he tries to sell 
it that he must take a loss. 

But fashions in old stamps are few and unimportant. 
What was a rare stamp fifty years ago is necessarily a still 
rarer stamp today and therefore more valuable. True, there 
are passing fads here, too, such as first-day covers and 
cachets and one or two others which one might mention 
if one weren't afraid of being assassinated some dark night, 
but you don't need to invest in them to have a fine collec- 
tion. And it is true that the world depression has now hurt 
prices a bit, as compared with those of the golden 1920*8. 
But if you have not gone wild and bought the fanciest of 
rarities, regardless of price, a stamp collection is a sound 
investment, even today. Even the fabulous British Guiana 
and Mauritius values will come back, some day. 

Finally, there is no hobby that I know of which has so 
many pleasant ramifications as philately. It lays open to the 
collector a thousand alluring bypaths, and few are the gen- 
eral collectors who do not stray into at least one of them. 
In fact, collectors are creating new ones every little while. 
Through philately you find yourslf becoming involved in 
the history, not only of nations and of mail service, but of 
telegraphy, transportation, commerce, manufacturing, edu- 
cation, secret societies, the arts, hotel keeping in short, it 
is not one but a congeries of hobbies. 

We shall not attempt to tell you how to build a stamp 
collection. The best method we know of is that adopted 
by a noted British collector, Thomas K. Tapling, who was 
given a hundred pounds when he was a schoolboy at 
Harrow, with the stipulation that he was not to blow it in 
on toffee and ginger beer, and who promptly invested it 
all in stamps. That was around 1870, when a hundred 


pounds would buy most of the varieties then in existence. 
The result was that, before Tapling died at thirty-six, he 
had one of the most notable collections in Europe. 

The lesson is obvious. You just take the five hundred 
dollars which someone gives you when you are about fif- 
teen, and invest it judiciously in stamps, and then carry 
on from there, building something which you can, if neces- 
sary, sell in your old age for a small fortune. Many have 
even begun with only a dime or so and done the same 
thing. If you are of more mature years when you read this, 
you take a thousand or two which you had thought of 
putting into another motor car and buy stamps with it, 
thus acquiring something which will give you several times 
as much joy in the years to come, and will be a permanent 
investment. Two or three thousand invested in an auto- 
mobile dwindles practically to zero in less than ten years, 
while money judiciously mind, I say judiciously invested 
in stamps will hold its own or even grow in value. 

The buying of these new United States commemorative 
stamps in full sheets as they come out and salting them 
down, as some are now doing, isn't at all a new idea. Away 
back in 1863, when philately was young, a newspaper re- 
ported that collectors were "laying up considerable num- 
bers of obsolete and even of current stamps. This practice 
is grounded on the assumption that the Timbromanie" (as 
the French called the fad) "will continue in vogue for 
several years, and that before it goes out, many stamps now 
comparatively common may become rare and valuable to 

Several years! Little could they foresee how long-lived 
the hobby was to be, nor how enormously values would 



MOST philatelists are un- 
r , 
aware how near we 

came to having no 
stamps at all and where would we be now without them? 
Try to fancy the void a world without stamps! Well, just 
about the time that postage stamps began to be made, 
massive brains on both sides of the Atlantic were opining 
that Government ought to carry all letters free of charge. 
"Letter postage/' cried Lord Ashburton, "is the worst of 
taxes!" The American Whig Review said vehemently in 
1848 that: 

A tax upon letters is in effect a tax upon speech. It 
is worse. It is a fine levied upon the affections. It is 
an impost upon the love of kindred. It is a penalty 
on commerce; an amercement upon the diffusion of 
knowledge and a drag on the progress of civilization. 
It has been well said by eminent commercial authori- 
ties that you might as well tax words spoken upon the 
stock exchange as the communications of various per- 
sons living in Manchester, Liverpool or London. . . . 
If there be any one subject which ought not to be 
selected as a subject of taxation, it is that of inter- 
communication by mail; and if there be any one thing 
which the government ought, consistently with its 



great duties to the public, to do gratuitously, it is the 
carriage of letters. 

And there was much more to the same end. Men of 
prominence then, as now, seemed to nurse a delusion that 
Government has some mysterious source of income other 
than taking it out of the pockets of its citizens. Free post- 
age would be but a small boon for the present-day poor, 
for almost anyone can find two or three cents for a stamp; 
but fancy the rich gravy for business, the great mail-order 
houses, for example, if they could send all their letters, 
catalogues and packages free of charge. Fortunately, the 
statesmen of the era decided to handle the thing in the 
honest way by a direct charge for carriage, and the happi- 
ness of coming generations of philatelists was thereby 

For long before 1840, postage had been so high that 
poor folk couldn't afford to send letters at all. In the 
United States in 1800, to send one sheet of paper three 
hundred miles cost thirty cents, and in England thirty 
years later, twelvepence. In any country, if there were two 
sheets in the letter instead of one, the postage was doubled, 
regardless of weight. A book manuscript once put into the 
mail in England was assessed 10 for postage. Even toler- 
ably affluent persons used all sorts of tricks to beat this im- 
post. Newspapers went through the mails, of course, at 
much lower rates than letters; and by underlining certain 
words in the newspapers with pencil, messages were con- 
veyed; or a business man's name and address on the wrap- 
per of the paper might be written in more than a hundred 
ways to convey quotations, buying and selling orders, and 
other information. Furthermore, postage was collected 
either from sender or receiver, which necessitated much 


trouble in handling and caused the refusal of many letters 
by addressees. 

Rowland Hill, a hitherto somewhat obscure English 
business man, seeing that the British postal service was 
terrible and that the Post Office was losing money, an- 
nounced after long cogitation in 1837 that letters should 
be sent for a flat rate, that that rate should be a penny an 
ounce, and it should be paid in advance. The proposals 
were at first greeted with loud laughter in Parliamentary 
circles, but Hill built up an organization of supporters, and 
finally, after three years of battling in Parliament, con- 
vinced a majority that penny postage was the solution to 
all problems of the service. A law providing for it was 
passed in 1840. 

The first approximation of a stamp was an ample and 
elaborate design covering a part of one side of a letter 
sheet; a design centering in a hard-faced person intended 
for Britannia, with the national lion dozing at her feet, 
while with each hand she launched in diverse directions a 
couple of naked angels who, despite their total lack of 
equipment, were presumably carrying letters to all parts of 
the world, as was proved by elephants, camels, reindeer, 
American Indians, and other exotics grouped at the sides 
of the picture. Or, as Barham described it in The Ingoldsby 

And with him he brings 
A set of those odd-looking envelope things, 
Where Britannia (who seems to be crucified) flings 
To her right and her left, funny people with wings, 
Among elephants, Quakers and Catabaw kings; 
And a taper and wax and small Queen's heads in packs, 
Which, when notes are too big, you're to stick on their 


The thing caused so much ribald comment Mr. Buck- 
ingham, a favorite mime, even sang a comic song about it 
at Vauxhall Gardens that it was "killed" after six months, 
and all the copies on hand unsold were burned about 
60,000 of them! Collectors now awaken in the small hours 
of the night and moan as they think of that funeral pyre. 
No government today would be so stupid; but who could 
have dreamed in 1840 that people would some day collect 
postage stamps; in fact, that philately, a word as yet un- 
coined, would become the premier hobby of the world? 

In stead of this Mulready letter sheet came the first ad- 
hesive stamp. Experiments with such stamps had been 
made by a private carrier in Paris in the seventeenth cen- 
tury, and several suggestions for such a symbol had been 
made in England in recent years. Sardinia had, between 
1818 and 1836, sold sheets of letter paper with embossed 
receipts upon them for fifteen, twenty-five and fifty cen- 
tesimi. But now for the first time a real adhesive stamp 
was to be used. All sorts of objections against it were urged 
among others, that it wouldn't stick; it would come off 
in the mails as frequently, in early years, it did! Or, "The 
postmaster would take the money from the sender, and 
then fail to put the stamp on the letter." Not for a long 
time did it occur to anybody that the sender of the letter 
might just buy the stamp and stick it on the letter himself. 

The British Government offered a five-hundred-pounds 
prize for the best design for a stamp. But though a thou- 
sand or more designs were sent in, none of them seemed 
to suit, and the Post Office created its own design. And 
after all, it was nothing elaborate; just the still-girlish pro- 
file of the young Queen Victoria as its major figure, and 
around it a simple frame with the word "Postage" and the 
denomination. It is a curious fact that from that moment 


until 1924 the name of Great Britain never appeared on 
its stamps nothing but the monarch's portrait, with the 
words "Postage" or "Postage and Revenue." Even as Tif- 
fany's in New York for decades never displayed its name 
on its building, so did the old country scorn to advertise. 
If you didn't recognize a British stamp when you saw it, 
that just indicated the profundity of your ignorance, that 
was all. 

Another interesting fact is that collecting began almost 
as soon as stamps began to be issued. But the first collect- 
ing of which we have notice was for another purpose than 
that of today. A reading notice in the London Times in 
1841 sets it before us: 

A young lady, being desirous of covering her dressing 
room with cancelled postage stamps, has been so far 
encouraged in her wish by private friends as to have 
succeeded in collecting 16,000! These, however, being 
insufficient, she will be greatly obliged if any good- 
natured person who may have these (otherwise use- 
less) little articles at their disposal would assist her in 
her whimsical project. Address to E. D., Mr. Butt's 
glover, Leadenhall-st, or Mr. Marshall's, jeweller, 

Why "cancelled"? Unused stamps, properly grouped as 
to color, would have made a much more beautiful room. 
True, if she had appealed for co-operation in that line, she 
might have had something of the experience of Bill Nye, 
who was once seized with an ambition to collect the auto- 
graphs of all the bank presidents and cashiers in the United 
States. Those were the days when national banks were per- 
mitted to issue paper money, as they did until recent years, 
and Nye's suggestion, in a circular letter sent to the bank 


officials, was that each write his autograph on a five-dollar 
bill and send it to him (all bank notes had to be thus signed 
to be valid); but he reported an almost total lack of in- 
terest in his worthy project. 

The stamps-for-decoration fad was still raging several 
years later, and the English magazine, Leisure Hour, thus 
spoke of the lady collectors: 

These antiquaries beg old stamps wherever they go 
and amass them by hundreds of thousands, for some 
cherished purpose of their own. . . . Now it is to line 
a work-box or a trunk, or the interior of a closet or a 
cabinet; and sometimes their ambition takes a still 
higher flight than this, and their grand design is to 
paper a room with the defaced Queen's heads. ... It 
is said that a room thus papered, when the affair is 
managed with skill and the walls cleverly varnished 
afterwards, has a very agreeable aspect the walls ap- 
pearing to retire considerably from their actual posi- 
tion and thus give the effect of larger space in the 

In 1842 Punch remarked that: 

A new mania has bitten the industriously idle ladies 
of England. To enable a large wager to be gained, they 
have been indefatigable in their endeavors to collect 
old penny stamps; in fact, they betray more anxiety to 
treasure up Queen's Heads than Harry the Eighth did 
to get rid of them. 

But in the '40*8 a new reason arose for collecting stamps. 
Brazil began issuing them in 1843, various Swiss cantons 
fell into line between that date and 1850, the United States 
and Mauritius in 1847, F rance and Belgium in 1849 and 


many more in 1850. Now it became necessary to collect 
stamps just in order to have all the varieties, and school- 
boys began to take it up. Jean Baptiste Philippe Constant 
Moens of Belgium, later one of the world's great philat- 
elists, said he began it as a boy in 1848 and by 1852, at 
nineteen, he was a stamp merchant. According to some 
translators, Balzac referred to stamp collecting in Le 
Cousin Pons, published in 1847. Philip Kent's translation, 
published in 1880, makes one paragraph read: 

All ye who can no longer drink from that vessel 
which has in every age been termed the cup of pleas- 
ure, apply yourselves to the task of collecting no 
matter what; even postage stamps have been collected. 

But Balzac's phrase is "on a collectionne des affiches," 
not "timbres postes." "Affiche" then meant a bill, placard, 
poster or sticker. Was the novelist really thinking of stamps 
when he wrote that? France did not begin issuing them 
until two years later, and if Balzac knew of the elementary 
collecting which had begun in England, he was well abreast 
of the times. But probably he did; what else could he have 
meant? There were no posters worth collecting then. 

Dr. C. W. Viner, an early British philatelist who lived 
to the end of the century, used to say that he first saw a 
stamp collection in 1854. ^ consisted of about a hundred 
stamps, mounted on a large card, the names of the coun- 
tries in a column at the left. He was told that the arrange- 
ment followed that of the collection of a man named 
Scales, "who," said Dr. Viner, "if he is still living, may 
boast of being the first known collector in England." 

The hobby had its birth in the United States at some 
time in the 1850*8 no one knows just when again among 


young women, who were now, however, collecting for the 
modern reason. It was noticed by the Boston Daily Adver- 
tiser in 1860 in a kindly manner which contrasted sharply 
with the attitude of European editors, who regarded it as 
beneath contempt. The Advertiser spoke of it as a "mania," 
but conceded that the growing importance of postage made 
stamp collecting "something more than a mere pastime, 
and gives to it something of the dignity of a collection of 
coins or medals." He continues with words which have a 
familiar sound: 

The stamps of Mauritius and Hawaii, we believe, 
are accounted among the most rare, and next to these 
may be named the Russian, for which, acting as an 
amateur stamp broker, we should readily be author- 
ized to offer half a dozen of the more common Italian, 
German or French varieties, and perhaps hundreds of 
English and American. 

So! Those first two Mauritius stamps, of whose rare 
specimens a few collectors today, with glistening eyes and 
dribbling chops, get only an occasional glimpse under 
glass, with an armed husky standing near, ready to shoot 
if one so much as points an awed finger at the treasure- 
were already rarities, only a few years after they were 
printed, one at a time, on a little hand press. The editor 

This elegant and curious "mania" is now chiefly 
indulged by young ladies, but we cannot tell how soon 
it may take possession of the more mature portion of 
mankind. We have already suggested that it is not 
beneath the notice of the most dignified literary in- 


Which final sentence suggests that the editor himself 
was becoming fascinated. He remarks that some collections 
now number three hundred varieties! 

In England, the editors were less sympathetic. The first 
philatelic magazine, the Stamp Collector's Review, which 
appeared in Liverpool in 1862 and ran through nineteen 
numbers, was undiscovered by the lay press; but when the 
second, a fine little monthly called the Stamp Collector's 
Magazine, appeared in London in 1863, an evening news- 
paper editor sneeringly remarked that "that weakest and 
most puerile of all manias, Postage Stamp collecting, has 
at last found a literary organ." 

A French editor became so irritated over Timbromanie 
that he suggested that the collectors might be washing the 
postmarks off the stamps and selling them again. Charles 
Lever, the Irish novelist, when he was consul at Spezzia, 
Italy, in 1864, hinted at the same thing in a satirical skit 
on stamp collecting written in the name of his fictitious 
character, Cornelius O'Dowd, for Blackwood's Magazine: 

What these people of much leisure and little inge- 
nuity mean by it, I never could make out! Have they 
discovered any subtle acid, any cunning process by 
which the stamp of disqualification can be effaced, and 
are they enabled to cheat the Treasury by reissue? 

But of course he was only proposing this in a grumpy, 
jesting way, as being the only explanation to a sane person 
for such silliness. Truth to tell, collectors of those days did 
spend many hours in trying to wash off some of the blotchy 
cancellation which so disfigured their cherished specimens, 
and often succeeded only in ruining the stamp in the proc- 
ess. As another theory, Lever wonders: 


Is it the intention to establish a cheap portrait- 
gallery of living princes and rulers? Is it to obtain, at 
a minimum cost, the correct face and features of the 
men who sway the destinies of their fellow-man? If so, 
the coinage, even in its basest form, would be infinitely 

It seemed to him that a collection of the shoes of the 
rulers in question would be far more logical and interesting; 
the jack-boot of the Czar Nicholas, for example, with 
which he kicked one of his marshals, one of the thrifty 
Duke of Modena's shoes, twice soled and heeled, and so 
on. But as for stamp collectors, "What curiosity can any 
reasonable being have to possess the commonplace effigies 
of the most commonplace-looking people in Europe?" As 
he was then holding a consular position under one of these 
commonplace-looking persons, Mr. Lever's nerve was ad- 
mirable. He couldn't get away with that sort of thing in 
modern America. 

Young women were still numerous among the collectors, 
for the English Young Ladies' Journal said in the same 
year in answer to several correspondents: 

We cannot encourage "exchanging foreign stamps/' 
for we do not see the smallest good resulting from it. 
This foreign stamp collecting has been a mania which 
is at length dying out. Were the stamps works of art, 
then the collecting them might be justified. Were 
they, in short, anything but bits of defaced printing, 
totally worthless, we would try to say something in 
their favour. 

But a few months later (Dec. 14, 1864) the editor was 
astounded to find the fad still alive: 


We had almost heard nothing of late of the postage 
stamp collecting mania, till suddenly the formidable 
announcement is made by an advertisement that an 
amateur is ready to sell his collection for what sum, 
would it be thought? nothing less than 250! 

It has been guessed that the same collection fifty years 
later would have brought a hundred times as much. 

Meanwhile, despite this sniping, the hobby was growing 
by leaps and bounds. Some of the most famous of British 
philatelists had their start in the 1850*8 E. Stanley Gib- 
bons, for example, later one of the world's most noted 
dealers, who began in 1854 at the age of fourteen. Two 
years later he was trading in stamps in a small way in a 
cornei of his father's pharmacy. 

It was in 1860, the same year of the Boston Advertiser's 
editorial, that the first lists of stamps for collectors' use 
were privately circulated in manuscript by a hobbyist, 
Frangois George Oscar Berger-Levrault not of royal line- 
age, as his name might indicate, but a printer of Strasburg 
and in the following year this gentleman issued a twelve- 
page list, printed by autolithography. A few months later 
Alfred Potiquet of Paris published the first printed cata- 
loguemagnificently entitled Catalogue des Timbres-poste 
Crees dans les divers Etats du Globe which leaned heavily 
on Berger-Levrault's lists. The next year, 1862, was a mem- 
orable one in philately; things happened rapidly. The first 
catalogues in English, three of them, appeared, one of 
which, Mount Brown's, listed twelve hundred varieties of 
stamps. A young artist named Booty produced the first 
illustrated catalogue three editions in one year for which 
he drew all the pictures and text on the lithograph stone. 
Mount Brown's catalogue was promptly pirated in America 


as the Stamp Collector's Manual. We were fighting the 
Civil War at the time, but some people still seemed to 
have a few moments to think about stamps. Perhaps the 
young ladies at home diverted their minds from thoughts 
of the boys on the battlefield with the fad. 

The first stamp album was issued that year by a French- 
man, Justin Lallier, and published in both France and 
England. Lallier was not a philatelist, which may explain 
why all the printed spaces on his pages for stamps were of 
the size and shape of the first British Queen's head. Many 
collectors were so influenced by this that they took scissors 
in hand and trimmed their valuable, oddly shaped stamps 
down to fit those spaces another vandalism which freezes 
the present-day collector's blood in his veins. One of 
Lallier's albums, unused, may still be picked up now and 
then for twenty-five dollars or thereabouts. Mount Brown 
issued an album, too, even smaller than Lallier's its pages 
measure four and a half by five and a half inches with 
alternate pages wholly blank for the stamps and descriptive 
matter on the pages opposite them. 

The year '63 saw the launching in London of the first 
stamp magazine, as we have already noticed, and it quickly 
built up a remarkable list of advertisers throughout the 
United Kingdom, as well as a few in foreign countries, who 
were dealing in stamps in a small way. One announcement 
tells us that a collection of three hundred stamps will be 
raffled for a shilling a chance. Another offers curious testi- 
mony to the popularity of philately. The galop was a very 
popular dance then, and this notice announces "Arthur 
O'Leary's Stamp Galop The most Successful Galop of the 
Season and nightly encored. The Title-page is beautifully 
embellished in Colours with Postage Stamps of Foreign 
Nations. Sent free for Twelve Stamps." About the same 

What often happened to your letters in pre-envelope days. 


Sir Rowland Hill, originator of penny postage in England, and 
the rush of mail at the London post office when it went into 

effect in 1840. 

Courtesy Scott Stamp and Coin Co. 

The "Mulreadv envelope/' which was the first postage stamp. 


time the JBriefmarken Polka fiir Piano was published in 
Leipzig, and other philatelic adventures in harmony fol- 
lowed from time to time, including "The Stamp Collec- 
tor's Song," published at London in 1886. 

An informal open-air postage stamp exchange had begun 
in London about 1860 in Change Alley, "leading out of 
Birchin Lane." There in those long English twilights from 
spring to autumn, one saw every evening "at least fifty boys 
and some men, too," as a shocked reporter chronicled, buy- 
ing, selling, but mostly swapping stamps, even as you may 
see curbstone traders dealing in diamonds today on the 
sidewalk in Maiden Lane and a certain spot on the Bowery 
in New York. Rapidly the situation grew even worse; young 
ladies, "album in hand," were seen there, and whisper it 
actually "one of Her Majesty's Ministers." Here you heard, 
said the reporter, such jargon as this: "Have you a yellow 
Saxon?" "I want a Russian." "I'll give a red Prussian for 
a blue Brunswicker." "Will you exchange a Russian for a 
black English?" "I wouldn't give a Russian for twenty 

After a year or so, the police meddled a bit, on the the- 
ory that merchandising was being done without licenses; 
but the enthusiasts, including the cabinet minister and the 
ladies, continued to meet in certain alleys off Birchin Lane 
and do their trading more surreptitiously. It is recorded 
that "one of the ladies contrived to effect a highly advan- 
tageous exchange of a very so-so specimen with a young 
friend of ours, who salved his greenness with the apologetic 
remark that he could not drive a hard bargain with a lady." 
Even several years later the traditional annoyance persisted, 
as we find in the concluding lines of a poem describing 
Birchin Lane after four o'clock: 


When sudden a gruff voice is heard, 
That all the thronging bevy stirred; 
I turned, and fix'd my eyes upon 
A bobby! crying "Stamps, move on!" 

A shop in Birchin Lane housed an actual dealer in 
stamps a woman; and there was another woman in Paris 
who, with her husband, ran a little news and reading room 
and who became quite a noted stamp merchant, her shop 
being the lounging place even of the rich and noble philat- 
elists of the Second Empire. 

In Paris by this time collectors had begun to study the 
watermarks in paper and to measure perforations. The sci- 
entific trend was on. Controversy raged there, too, over a 
one-word name for the hobby. One group insisted upon 
calling the collector a Timbrophile, while another followed 
Monsieur G. Herpin, who, after much brain-sweat, pro- 
duced a word compounded from the Greek <&og ("fond 
of") and ctT&eia ("exemption from tax"), thus indicating a 
liking for something free from tax, which is taken to mean 
a stamp; a far-fetched concoction whose derivatives philat- 
ely, philatelist and philatelic, with their awkward shiftings 
of accent back and forth, are irksome to most of our ears 
to this day. We wish M. Herpin had tried again, or perhaps 
that the other group had prevailed who preferred Tim- 
brologie as a name for the hobby, even though the word to 
American ears seems to have some connection with the 
lumber business. The leading French philatelic organiza- 
tion, by the way, is still called the Societe Frangaise de 

When England first heard the new word, it couldn't 
even spell it. A London editor informed the world that "A 


mania for collecting postage stamps has added a new word 
to the language, 'philotelist/ ' 

Well, the rush of men and boys into "philotely" seemed 
to scare most of the young ladies out, and the males very 
nearly took complete charge of the hobby, both in Eng- 
land and America, in the 'yo's and '8o's. Women still col- 
lected junk stamps by the million for the benefit of mys- 
terious orphans and African savages, but a woman philat- 
elist was rare, indeed. 


[HE EARLIEST American 


stamp collector of record 

was William H. Faber, of 
Charleston, S. C. In a letter written in 1918 to the Metro- 
politan Philatelist of New York, he said that he began col- 
lecting in 1855, when he was a boy. John K. Tiffany, who 
became one of America's greatest collectors and philatelic 
bibliographers, said that he first became interested in 
stamps and began picking them up when he was in Europe 
in 1858. These men must have had a natural instinct for 
the hobby, for there was no philatelic guidance or inspira- 
tion then; no dealers, no price lists, no stamp magazines or 
literature of any sort. 

We find the first mention of an American stamp mer- 
chant five years later. In the autumn of 1860 a poorly 
dressed man was seen standing at the lower end of City 
Hall Park in New York with about a hundred foreign 
stamps tacked to a board (time out for teeth-gnashing). 
Nowadays the story sometimes has it that he fastened them 
to the board with pins and sold some at one and two cents 
each; but a collector who remembered his park peddling 
and bought stamps from him said, fifteen years later, that 
he used tacks or nails and sold at the flat price of five cents, 
"having no idea as to the real value of the stamps." But if 



gossip be true he came, in after years, to have very definite 
ideas as to stamp values, for this man is said to have been 
William P. Brown, who became one of New York's best 
known stamp dealers. 

And yet it might have been another fellow; for Mr. 
Brown wrote a quarter century later,* "I think I am the 
earliest stamp dealer now in business in the United States. 
I commenced trading in them somewhere about 1860. 
John Bailey was the only one I knew of at that time in the 
business; he is now working for the coal companies at 
Hoboken, N. J." 

There are also rumors of another dealer named Brennan; 
but nothing definite can be learned about him. Probably 
there were three or four who drifted into the business that 
year. Whether it was Brown or Bailey or the shadowy 
Brennan who first appeared there at the lower end of the 
park can never be settled now. Anyhow, despite the tack 
holes in them, their stock sold well, and corner news ven- 
dors also began picking up a few used stamps, which they 
sold at rising prices five, six and ten cents. At that time, 
fifty cents was considered a good price for the rarest speci- 
menif the seller happened to discover that it was rare. 

A veteran philatelist, twenty years later, recalled that 
many American collectors of 1860 were monumentally ig- 
norant of geography and political history; they had no cata- 
logues or other publications to guide them, and the tend- 
ency of nations in early days to omit the names of their 
countries from their stamp designs was very confusing. The 
collectors couldn't tell Brazil from Peru, they didn't know 
that Bayern meant Bavaria, the Thurn and Taxis stamps 
puzzled them and were assigned, now to one German state, 
now to another, and the first Luxemburg stamps, with 

* To the Western Philatelist of Chicago, Sept., 1887, p. 193. 


nothing to identify them but a portrait of the King of 
Holland, threw the amateurs on their beam ends. 

The outbreak of the Civil War in 1861 inflicted some 
small detriment upon the stamp business. Some of the 
peddlers probably went into the Army of the Potomac and 
watered the cornfields of Virginia with their blood; but 
one, the indestructible Mr. Brown, was somehow missed 
by the draft and carried on. The news stands continued to 
sell a few foreign stamps, among which was an occasional 
Confederate, which was quickly snapped up by collectors. 
Boston, too, which claimed some of the earliest of the col- 
lectorsas we may guess from the Boston Advertiser item 
of 1860, already quoted also had dealers; and one of them, 
G. Dexter, issued the first known American catalogue or 
price list, a mere single leaf printed on one side, in 1863. 

In that same year the first American stamp album ap- 
peareda handsome one of 208 pages bound in brown 
leather, issued by those veteran publishers, D. Appleton & 
Company, who were evidently keeping abreast and even 
a little ahead of the times. William R. Ricketts, noted 
collector of philatelic literature and bibliographer, has a 
copy of this album and says that the only other known 
copy is in the Library of Congress; so it seems that the 
publishers in their enthusiasm ran ahead of the times a 
bit, and the book could not have had a very large sale. In 
fact, it is so nearly forgotten now that Scott's album, is- 
sued five years later, has often been spoken of as the first 
published in America. 

Philately continued to grow, despite the bloody conflict 
which was tearing at the heart of the nation, and in 1864 
the first American philatelic periodical of which I have 
found record, the Stamp Collector's Review, began to be 
published at Albany, N. Y., and, incidentally, was fathered 


by S. Allan Taylor, who became one of the most notorious 
of dealers in counterfeit stamps. It continued for twelve 

In 1863 one of the great figures in American philately 
appeared in New York an eighteen-year-old boy named 
John Walter Scott, who stepped off a ship from England 
one hot August day with few assets save a package of 
stamps in his little trunk. In those days there was no con- 
cern on the part of the government lest the immigrant 
become a public charge in fact, many immigrants went 
comfortably right from the ship into our poorhouses else 
young Scott might have been shunted back to Albion on 
the next vessel. He had begun working in a mercantile 
office in London at the age of fifteen, and the stamps on 
the firm's foreign correspondence lured him into philately. 
He and a young friend, Charlie Watson (also laden with 
stamps) came to America together. Scott finally sold his 
stamps to a pushcart dealer on the north side of City Hall 
Park, at Broadway and Chambers Street again reported to 
have been Mr. Brown for ten dollars. 

He sought but failed to find work perhaps the patriotic 
New Yorkers didn't like his British accent and talked de- 
spondently to the stamp dealer Mr. Brown again of en- 
listing; for men were much needed to replace those re- 
cently slaughtered at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. 
Brown had evidently done pretty well with his outdoor 
business by this time and must have taken a remarkable 
liking to the English boy, for he offered to lend him a 
hundred dollars' worth of stamps to sell at some other 
spot, of course. Scott made about thirty dollars a month 
by this open-air vending, his sister helping him with stock. 
In a letter '^o her he says that he is selling the "black 
English" for twelve cents each, "a very good profit." 


Nevertheless, stamps didn't promise to make a fortune 
for him, and in 1864 or early in '65, Scott drifted out to 
Idaho, a new Eldorado, with a party of prospectors. He is 
said to have been interested in a small boom-town hotel, 
but in May, 1865, the whole town burned, as mining camps 
usually did sooner or later, and after lingering a while in 
hope of better things, he started in July afoot for California 
a daring venture in those days when painted "hostyles" 
lurked behind every bush and rock; yet by November, 
John Walter reached Sacramento with his hair on, and 
there did the best he could. 

It was in 1865 that two coin and stamp journals were 
founded in Chicago, and the United States Stamp Com- 
pany of Lowell, Mass., issued a price list. With the coming 
of peace there was a rapid gain in the stamp business in 
the North; the South was too hard run, too impoverished 
by the war, too absorbed in trying to make ends meet, to 
give much time to hobbies. Nevertheless, by 1874 the edi- 
tor of the New Orleans Picayune was so pestered by boys 
coming in and asking for a few old stamps that he darkly 
predicted that some day a boy or two would disappear and 
never be heard of again. A pioneer philatelic association 
organized in Wytheville, Va., in 1878 got itself into the 
news frequently. 

In the North, in the last four years of the '6o's, a dozen 
new stamp periodicals sprang into being. Scott had re- 
turned via water and Panama to New York in '66, and 
once more tried the stamp business, this time under a roof 
in Liberty Street. Beginning in June, 1867, he circulated a 
monthly price list one leaf printed on one side only; and 
in December, 1868, he launched the American Journal of 
Philately, which claimed to be sponsored by the New York 


Philatelic Society, organized by "eight collectors of foreign 
postage stamps/' allegedly on March 21, 1867. 

But Scott had a captious critic, a stamp dealer of Boston 
named Ferdinand Marie Trifet many persons still living 
will remember him as a publisher of cheap music, classical 
and otherwise who had issued a leaflet price list in 1866 
and founded a journal, the American Stamp Mercury, a 
year later. Perhaps what first set M. Trifet's teeth on edge 
was that word "philately" which Scott tossed about so 
freely. To Trifet it was as the legendary red cloth to the 
bull. In July, 1868, his Mercury raged at the "self-sufficient 
wisdom" of "a few egotists in Europe and a very few more 
in America" who had decided that this should henceforth 
be the name of "the science of stamp collecting." After 
tearing the word to bits, the editor concluded: 

The word Timbrophily has hitherto been found in 
every way suitable without taxing either the patience 
of collectors or the brains (if they have any) of the 
pedantic egotists who coined the lovely phrase "Phi- 

The Mercury continued to speak of Timbrophilists and 
Timbrophilic news, and even produced the words "Tim- 
brography," which meant writing about stamps, and "Tim- 
bropolism," for the business of selling stamps; which 
proved that M. Trifet could coin even worse words than 
M. Herpin. But all his brain-sweat was in vain. 

Trifet accused Scott of copying prices from his list and 
of being fundamentally ignorant of stamps. Stamp maga- 
zines exchanged with each other then, and Trifet admitted 
receiving Numbers Two and Three of the American Jour- 
nal of Philately "which pretends to be a stamp journal run 
by a pretended stamp society" but hadn't seen Number 


One and didn't believe there was any. When Scott later 
sent him a copy of Number One, Trifet denounced it as a 
fake, printed for the purpose. He said that the New York 
Philatelic Society the "Moonshine Stamp Society" as he 
liked to call it consisted of two boys, Scott and his friend 
Watson who was still around, selling stamps and an 
imaginary clergyman who, according to Scott, promptly 
sailed for Buenos Aires and so passed out of the picture. 
Said he of Scott: 

He asserts that a personal friend of our own was re- 
fused admission into the Moonshine Philatelic Society 
on the ground of respectability. . . . Now in the first 
place, we have not a friend in New York or elsewhere 
but who is perfectly well aware that the existence of 
the "Society" is a simple and silly fiction, innocent 
enough in its way, its design being only another of 
the loud-mouthed and gaseous pretenses of which the 
columns of the Journal furnish so many striking ex- 
amples. . . . The "Society" ... is simply a pretense 
no meetings are held and the so-called Society con- 
sists of three persons." 

Dr. J. Brace Chittenden, who went into the matter 
pretty thoroughly and wrote of it in the Collector's Club 
Philatelist for April, 1924, is inclined to agree that this first 
New York collectors' club was more or less imaginary 
although its several officers and directors had been set forth 
more than once in the American Journal of Philately. 
Chittenden believed that Charlie Watson was chiefly re- 
sponsible for the hoax, abetted by the third man, John J. 
Casey, for both of these later proved to be deficient in 
business honor. Scott probably agreed though with mis- 



givings that the fiction was "innocent enough in its way," 
but when Watson and Casey in later days strayed from the 
path of virtue, he broke with them. 

Scott, however, believed in a little puffery. He claimed 
a circulation of two thousand for the Journal, and a sale 
within a few months of fifteen thousand for his album, the 
first in America, issued in 1868; both claims ridiculed by 
Trifet and, as a matter of fact, they do have a slight odor 
of inflation. The Mercury said that the Journal had "re- 
duced lying to a science/' Scott fired back at it as hotly as 
he could: "We feel as if we were throwing away a valuable 
page of our Journal in criticising the September number of 
the above paper"; and of its editor, "We look upon his 
language as a disgrace to the philatelic press, and if he con- 
tinues to write in that style, we shall have to pass his re- 
marks in silent contempt" 

The last notice in the Journal of the transactions, real or 
fictitious, of the New York Philatelic Society, appears in 
May, 1869, when it is said that Messers Dinwiddie and 
Scott tendered their resignations, "because of numerous 
business engagements." Thereafter, New York had no 
stamp club, true or imaginary, for another five years. 

But American philately was now swinging into its stride. 
Stamp magazines, mail-order dealers and counterfeiters 
were springing up like weeds in a wet summer. Poets took 
pens in hand and dashed off some of the worst doggerel 
that ever sullied paper. One effusion, "The Stamp Col- 
lector," began thus: 

Deem not his mission all in vane (sic) 

Who with his album in his hand 
In fancy travels o'er the main, 

Collecting stamps from every land. 


It went on and on, with no improvement. It is not re- 
corded that Lord Tennyson was inspired by the hobby, but 
an amateur bard, perhaps with the spell of the laureate's 
"Oriana" upon him, seized his quill and struck out eight 
stanzas like this: 

What now is asked is all the rage? 
What thus excites the present age? 
What actuates the youthful sage? 

Trunks and attics were being searched for old letters 
the inexplicable thing is that they haven't all been ran- 
sacked yet and the magazines were telling readers how to 
steam or soak stamps off the envelopes (lay the back of 
the paper on wet woolen cloth, was a favorite method), 
for no one had yet thought of saving the whole cover; but 
collectors were warned that the Russian stamps wouldn't 
stand soaking, because "they are printed in water colors." 

At the Academy of Music in New York on May zd, 
1868, the collectors scattered through the audience were 
delighted when in the first act of Offenbach's new opera, 
La Belle Helene, a story of ancient Troy, Calchas, the high 
priest of Jupiter, receiving a letter brought by a dove from 
Venus, carefully peeled off the stamp before reading it, 
explaining to Paris, who stood by, that he was saving it for 
the little princess Hermione, "who has a collection." But 
this whimsy was trumped by a seedy character who went 
into a shop in Louisville and offered a tattered oriental 
stamp for sale, claiming that it was the identical one which 
had carried St. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians. 

The gorgeous bi-colored stamps which the United States 
issued in 1869 were a great stimulant to collectors. In 1871 
the New York Sun made a startling discovery and an- 


nounced it in a headline, "A NEW MANIA/' declaring that 
there were ten thousand stamp collectors in New York 
City (which then included Manhattan only); a palpable 

The lads who began collecting in the '50'$ and '60*8 were 
the ones who reaped the real financial rewards, if and when 
they chose to do so. An English barrister with one of those 
double-barreled names so much affected in Britain, Mr. W. 
Hughes-Hughes, ceased collecting in 1874 when, according 
to his carefully kept accounts, he had spent only sixty-nine 
pounds on his stamps, and sold them twenty-two years 
later for three thousand pounds! Another man in England 
spent three-hundred-sixty pounds up to 1871 and sold his 
collection in 1898 to Stanley Gibbons, Ltd., for four thou- 
sand pounds. Ah, them was the days! Don't expect things 
like that to happen again. 

But prices for rarities were rising to unheard-of heights 
even by 1870. Editor-dealer-collector Scott wrote in '71 that 
the highest price he remembered receiving for a stamp was 
seventy-five dollars, though he had some in his collection 
which he wouldn't sell, no, not for a hundred and fifty dol- 
lars! But in the following year he had heard of a sale for a 
hundred dollars and had seen a stamp in a London window 
priced at fifty pounds. Luxury was coming to philately; for 
in that year a Leipzig publisher issued an album de luxe- 
edition limited to twenty copies priced at a hundred and 
fifty thalers or about $112.50. The New York Times editor 
paused momentarily in his fight against the Tweed Ring to 
say that "To some stamps a value has been extended which 
seems preposterous." To which Scott retorted that he ex- 
pected to see the day when a single stamp would sell for 
a thousand dollars. That figure having been passed, he 
again predicted in 1895 that he would see a single stamp 


sold for five thousand dollars. He lived to see certain rari- 
ties sell for several times that much. 

Nevertheless, prices for many stamps now considered 
rare were so modest then that they take our breath away. 
For example you could buy the three-pfennige Saxony 1850 
unused from Scott in 1869 for half a dollar; today, the cata- 
logue prices for it are $400 unused and $300 used. Here 
are a few other comparisons between the Scott catalogue 
of '69 and the "asking" prices today though it must be 
admitted that dealers don't always insist upon catalogue 
prices to the penny at the present moment. 

1869 Today 
New Brunswick, 1851, is 

violet, used $5 $300 

Nova Scotia, 1857, 1S v i^ 

used $7 $275 

unused $12 $750 

Canada, 1851, i2d violet- 
black, used $3 $1,500 

unused. . .No price $3,500 
Mauritius, 1847, id orange 

used $5 $15,000 

unused. . .No price $20,000 

2d blue used $4 $15,000 

unused. . .No price $17,000 

To show the lack of precise knowledge of those days, 
Scott dates the Mauritius rarities as 1852, but as he speci- 
fies that they are the POST OFFICE stamps, he evidently 
means the 1847*8, as they are the only ones so character- 
ized. It was only a few years later that J. B. Moens of 
Belgium was holding these two Mauritius stamps at $1,250. 
One may logically doubt that Scott really had the genuine 


stamps in 1869. Counterfeits were numerous, dealers were 
careless, many were in the freshman class as regards exact 
knowledge of stamps, and in their eagerness to sell, would 
take a chance. 

The itch to publish was never more amazingly displayed 
than in philately. During the decade from 1870 to 1879, at 
least 108 stamp publications, weekly and monthly, were 
founded, and only seven of them lasted as long as two 
years. But this was scarcely the beginning. During the 
i88o's, no less than 248 new ones appeared, and with an 
equal high percentage of anemia and mortality. Among 
their names were such oddities as Hermes, One Dime, Tiny 
Collector, Tiny Philatelist and Philatelic Squeal. That 
their names and vital statistics have been preserved is 
largely due to the care of John K. Tiffany, St. Louis at- 
torney and noted collector, who was as much interested 
in philatelic bibliography as in stamps themselves. In 
1875 he published The Philatelic Library, which listed 
1,461 publications of all sorts, including catalogues and 
price lists and the first publishing had been done less 
than a decade and a half before! 

Tiffany's remarkable collection of philatelic literature, 
in 1901, after his death, was sold to the Earl of Crawford, 
who was already building a collection of his own, and who 
therefore, when he died, left the most colossal corpus of 
such material in existence. Of the philatelic periodicals, 
Crawford wrote in the great bibliography which he com- 

I know of no branch of writing in which there exists 
so great a number of actual rarities. Little journals 
exist by the score whose lives did not go beyond a 
week, and whose existence is known only by single 

From the Collection of Etl\varcl S. Knapp 

The first exposition to advertise itself on an envelope was that 
at New York, 1853 (top). The first known political propaganda 
envelope was that of Gen. Winfield Scott when campaigning 


copies. They are found in Manuscript, in Hectograph, 
in Lithography and typewritten and in printed form 
of the roughest description, with illustrations in the 
text very nearly approaching in ugliness to some of 
the stamps they are anxious to describe. 

A majority of these journals in the first decade were 
published by dealers, and were little more than periodical 
price lists. News was scarce. Some space was very happily 
devoted to lambasting each other always great fun for an 
editor. They jeered at each other's spelling, typographical 
errors and errors of fact, all numerous. If one editor-dealer 
got a supply of some new stamp which another hadn't 
succeeded in getting, the second man more or less deli- 
cately hinted that the other's stuff was counterfeit. Fre- 
quently the man who yelled "Counterfeit!" the loudest 
was himself handing out forgeries with both hands. Libel? 
Shucks! Neither editors nor laymen wasted much time in 
libel suits in those days. They just barked "Liar!" or broke 
a chair over the other's head, and it was a more forthright 
and honest way of settling the matter than is the present 
endless devil's dance of litigation, with its attendant curses 
of perjury, enrichment of lawyers and intimidation of all of 
us until we dare not even voice provable truth about a 
whitewashed crook for fear of a libel suit. 

The magazines in most cases claimed complete separa- 
tion from the proprietor's stamp business as the Mercury 
did of Trifet's nevertheless, complimentary allusions kept 
creeping in, right under the editor's nose, such as: 

A more prompt, honest, well-informed and reliable 
stamp dealer than Abner Squizzle is not to be found. 
Collectors or those who have stamps to sell will do 
well to give him a trial. Plunkville (Ind.) Bugle. 


Editors often being youths with faces only slightly 
fuzzed, their magazines were refreshing examples of inno- 
cence. One of them remarked that he "had been a stamp 
collector since its earliest days to the present time and had 
continued in the interim!" On another page he mentioned 
the "Kingdom of Natal" and the "Empire of Newfound- 

Many journals of the '8o's and 'QO'S were published in 
obscure hamlets where the chance of getting fresh news 
was almost nil. Even the best of them clipped lavishly from 
other publications, and the "original" stuff gratuitously 
contributed was often pretty hackneyed. The story of Sir 
Rowland Hill and the beginning of cheap postage was 
probably rewritten a thousand times. One Southern jour- 
nal, in desperation, ran one of Will N. Harben's north 
Georgia hill-billy novels as a serial, while another ran what 
a competitor called "a trashy detective story." How literary 
standards have changed since then! Do Lowell, Ho wells 
and Aldrich stir uneasily in their graves when the Atlantic 
Monthly publishes detective stories? 

"As soon as we receive proper support," wrote one editor 
severely, "we will enlarge." That was putting it right up 
to them. Among some hundreds of such periodicals, the 
smallest we have seen is Volume One, Number One 
(maybe all that ever appeared) of The Stamp Exchange, 
a monthly published at Columbus, Indiana, in 1897. It is 
a four-page leaflet on gray paper, the pages being five by 
six inches over all and with wide margins. The subscription 
rate is announced as ten cents per year, advertising rate 
five cents per inch, or about twenty cents per page and 
there was a whole page of advertising. Another half page 
was given over to the weights of United States coins. One 
wonders whether the editor and publisher, Will E. Marsh, 


is still alive. It might easily be possible, for we would guess 
his age at the time to have been not more than sixteen. 

The American Journal of Philately said in 1870 that 
there were only seven real stamp dealers in the United 
States. (Did this include Trifet?) Some started on a capital 
of fifty to seventy-five cents, doing business by mail, buying 
from hand to mouth, selling fakes when they couldn't get 
real stamps or sometimes by preference. Some started with 
perhaps as much as fifteen dollars, rented a back room in 
some shabby old building and started business with a 
second-hand chair and table. Some were errand boys or 
clerks, who used their employers' post-office boxes for re- 
ceipt of their mail. "Some of these steal all the money 
sent." One large dealer received a letter from a boy in 
1870, expressing surprise and gratification at receiving all 
the stamps he ordered, "for most dealers steal the boys' 
money." "In the God-forgotten and Heaven-forsaken city 
of New York," said the voice of the Mercury from Boston, 
"as everybody knows, the whole of the juvenile dealers 
make it their business to steal their stock from their more 
successful brethren." The fly-by-night dealers were just as 
crooked in buying stamps from the layman as in selling 
them. Some of the better magazines frequently published 
black lists of "gentlemen who forget to pay for stamps." 

A customer who sent an order for about a dollar and a 
half to the Triumph Stamp Company of Erie, Pennsyl- 
vania, specifying that he wanted genuine stamps, received 
in return, so he reported, "nothing but the meanest coun- 
terfeits." When he complained, the "company" wrote with 
refreshing naivete, "We do not guarantee our stamps all 
genuine, we buy many of our stamps from American deal- 
ers as genuine stamps, if they are not, we are not to be 
blamed, as we are not very skillful judges, all the stamps 


which we purchase of Foreign Post Offices, we do warrant 
genuine." The American Journal of Philately commented 
that it was "doubtful if the Triumph Stamp Company con- 
sists of more than one small office boy/' 

On May 28, 1870, J. W. Scott staged the first stamp 
auction sale in history at Clinton Hall, formerly the ill- 
omened Astor Place Opera House Disaster Place, it came 
to be called after the riot there in 1849, when twenty-two 
were killed and many injured. In 1872 Scott even went 
over to England and introduced the auction at Sotheby's 
old stand in Wellington Street. Thereafter, auctions be- 
came more and more frequent on both sides of the water. 
Many of them, though puny affairs by comparison with 
some of the great ones of later years, were considered 
eminently successful: when "the fine collection of Mr. 
Pullen," for example, sold in 1878 for six hundred dollars. 
The first really big sale in America was that of the collec- 
tion of F. de Coppet by J. W. Scott and Company in 
1893, which brought in about $29,000. It was there that 
Scott's prediction of the "thousand-dollar stamp" was 
realized, when Charles B. Corwin of New York paid that 
much for a two-cent British Guiana 1850. Incidentally, 
Corwin sold that stamp four years later for seventeen hun- 
dred dollars. 

New zest was thrown into philately when the United 
States began issuing post cards in 1873. They had been 
conceived in Austria four years before, and rapidly became 
popular in Europe. A pity some of our present-day writers 
don't ponder their incidental history more carefully! Bertita 
Harding, in Golden Fleece, her delightful life sketch of the 
Empress Elizabeth of Austria and her husband, Franz 
Joseph, in describing the guerrilla warfare between Eliza- 
beth and her mother-in-law, early in 1855, says, "To pen 


even a post card which was addressed to an enemy 
amounted to an ordeal." It would, indeed when post cards 
weren't to be invented for another fourteen years! A year 
later, she had Duke Karl Theodor of Wittelsbach writing 
news "in short jottings, sometimes even on picture post 
cards," to his family at home. Suffering Clio! When the 
first picture post cards weren't seen until at least thirty-five 
years later! 

Well, when post cards were proposed in America during 
Grant's presidency, Democratic politicians denounced 
them as "the vain and trifling whim of a corrupt and ex- 
travagant Administration vainly seeking for some plaything 
to amuse the people with, while it steals away their liber- 
ties." Fears were expressed that the cards would be used 
for "blackmailing and venting personal spleen, as has been 
the case to some extent in England." Some persons de- 
signed their own private cards, of which hundreds were 
confiscated and sent to the Dead Letter Office. Many of 
the early post cards, notably those of Guatemala and New- 
foundland, were gorgeous affairs, with deep rococo borders 
on the address side and much other beautiful engraving. 
Collectors found much pleasure in these new items, and 
some began specializing in post cards. A new piano com- 
position, "The Post Card Galop," testified to their popu- 

Philately became more and more integrated with Amer- 
ican life. There was an article on postage stamps in the 
American Cyclopaedia in 1875, and in 1880 the word "phi- 
lately" found its way into Webster's Dictionary "Supple- 
ment of New Words." In that same year a complete 
assortment of the stamps and stamped envelopes of the 
United States in use at the time, and some older ones 
(reprints?), was placed in the foundation in Central Park, 


New York, for the ancient Egyptian obelisk erected by 
Thothmes III in Heliopolis, 1600 B.C., presented by the 
Khedive to New York City in 1877, F.O.B. Heliopolis, so 
that William H. Vanderbilt finally had to put up a hun- 
dred thousand dollars though why so much, we don't 
know to bring it across the ocean and set it up. And when 
the decorously garbed Statue of Liberty (ever since a 
"must" for the hinterland tourist) was erected in New 
York Harbor in 1883, it was noised about that its sculptor, 
Bartholdi, was a philatelist; whence New York surmised 
that the book which the well-draped libertarian female is 
nursing on one arm is a stamp album. 

In 1884 ladies in America were covering cups, plates 
and saucers with used stamps in artistic patterns (fifteen 
years later it was cigar bands), "the lavender penny and 
green halfpenny stamps of England working in well with 
the United States red," and covering them with copal 
varnish, which would stand washing in soap and water, 
though of course was the warning not in hot water. 
(They had no Valspar then Advt.) Parlor table tops were 
also covered with the stamps in circles, stars, diamonds, 
interlaced triangles and Greek key borderings. "If the table 
be round, an envelope in the center, stamped and addressed 
to the owner of the table, is appropriate." 

Composers continued their tributes to the hobby. The 
"Philatelical Waltzes," published in Chicago, were fol- 
lowed a few years later by the "Postage Polka," emanating 
from Montreal. In 1879 collectors were reading John Caldi- 
gate, one of Anthony Trollope's later novels, which was a 
philatelic mystery story. The hero, having made his pile in 
the Australian gold diggings, returned to England and mar- 
ried. But some bad eggs who had known him Down Under 
also came back and tried to blackmail him, producing a 


letter purporting to have been mailed by him from Sydney 
to another wife in New South Wales. A little postal clerk 
turns amateur detective, however, proves by this and that 
that the postmark is faked, remembers that the New South 
Wales stamps are manufactured in England, and by the 
little letters in the four corners of the stamp proves that it 
did not come into use until two years after the letter was 
supposed to have been mailed. But Trollope, unfortunately 
for his story, was not a philatelist, and critics quickly 
pointed out that only the British stamps had the letters in 
the four corners; those of New South Wales had none. 

On October 17, 1874, eight men real flesh-and-blood 
men this time, mostly from Brooklyn actually met in New 
York and organized the National Philatelic Society. Why 
"National" can only be explained by the same liking for 
ostentation which led a boys' stamp club of 1880 to call 
themselves The Amateur Virtuosos. The highfalutin name 
indicates that John J. Casey was prominent in the councils 
of the society. In fact, by 1877 he was in the saddle as Presi- 
dent, while R. R. Bogert was secretary. But Casey still had 
his weakness for counterfeits, and by 1879 the Society had 
forced him out, and his influence was ended. Philately was 
struggling hard to free itself of undesirable elements, and 
from that time forward, its progress was slowly but steadily 

The racketeering in surcharges, remainders and reprints 
by certain governments, often through the manipulation of 
contractors, was increasing, but all the better philatelists 
set their faces firmly against it. Counterfeiters decreased in 
number but became more skillful as the warfare on them 
increased. Philately had not yet become an exact science, 
and price lists in the '8o's were still speckled with errors. 
Small, unscrupulous dealers still functioned, though fewer 


in number. Even as late as 1892 Durbin & Hanes re- 
ported that they had bought out a "large company" which 
had been running page ads in several stamp journals, but 
whose entire stock was kept in a cigar box under the own- 
er's bed; and to consummate the deal cost Durbin & 
Hanes a cool Three Dollars. Some magazines as late as 1900 
printed lists of "dead beats, frauds and cheats," both 
among dealers and customers. 

In 1877 the largest stamp collection in America was that 
of "a St. Louis gentleman . . . with another profession to 
claim the great part of his time," as the St. Louis Times 
delicately remarked, perhaps withholding his name for fear 
of bringing him into ridicule and weakening the belief of 
clients in his sanity and ability as an attorney for the 
gentleman was John K. Tiffany. The Times said that his 
collection numbered thirteen thousand varieties; that the 
most paid for any stamp in it was twenty-five dollars; "but 
he has been offered as high as $100 for a single five-cent 

When in 1886 the first really national collectors' organ- 
ization was formed, the American Philatelic Association, 
Tiffany was unanimously regarded as the logical choice for 
president. Rudolphus R. Bogert, prominent New York 
dealer, was elected vice-president, and S. B. Bradt, secre- 
tary. A little later it was found advisable to change the 
name of the organization to American Philatelic Society; 
in fact, they should have known better at the very start, 
because of the initials. There was another, a notorious anti- 
Catholic (today it would be called Fascist) organization 
functioning then, known as the American Protective Asso- 
ciation, and at the mere sound of the letters "A.P.A." an 
Irishman would hit the first person within reach. 

When the second annual convention of the Association 


met at Chicago in August, 1887 it is interesting to note 
that the delegates "represented nearly all the learned pro- 
fessions, with a strong dash of insurance men thrown in" 
the Chicago Morning News mirrored public opinion by 
being a bit facetious at their expense: 

Most of the Delegates to the Convention are young 
men, some of them under the age of whiskers. Their 
faces are cut from the patterns of professional people, 
and their skins are tanned in the lawyer's or doctor's 
office or at the clerk's desk. President J. K. Tiffany is 
a smooth-faced, brown-mustached, lawyer-like gentle- 
man and a good talker. Secretary Bradt is tall and 
slender and bites a stripling black mustache. E. B. 
Sterling, besides having the finest collection of United 
States document stamps in the country, has an aggre- 
gation of blue-black beard that is as rare as some of 
his stamps. It has pre-empted all the territory between 
his shirt collar and cheek bones, and throws a shadow 
of transparent pallor over the upper portion of his 
face. The peculiar craze that makes the Convention 
possible is not stamped in colors on the Delegates' 
faces or even sunk in their features by dies. They look 
like other reasonable people who would not give face 
value for the one and two-penny Mauritius stamps 
that hundreds of wealthy stamp collectors are run- 
ning around to give $4,000 for. 

A rare stamp to a philatelist is like the winner of a 
Derby to a horseman, a new star to an astronomer, or 
a ten-dollar bill to a reporter. 

Mr. Sterling brought a portion of his collection of 
Government document stamps to the Convention 
and exhibited them. Mr. Sterling was formerly a bank 


teller, but he abandoned his business, with all its pos- 
sibilities and Canada only a few hundred miles away, 
to buy and sell stamps. 

It should be explained to the present generation that 
we had no extradition arrangements with Canada then, 
and the frequent abscondings of our bank officials to the 
hospitality of the Dominion supplied a favorite subject for 
newspaper jesting. The reporter ended by saying that the 
delegates spent a good portion of their time in looking 
over the collections of other members "and worrying over 
specimens they did not possess and could not buy." 

Some other Chicago papers were more respectful; the 
Times, for example, which spoke of "This unacknowledged 
but painstaking profession/' and the Inter-Ocean, which 
declared that "The subject matter that so deeply interests 
these gentlemen is of greater practical importance than the 
general public has ever realized." 

The Association held its first exhibition in Boston on 
August 13, 1888 (evidently there were no superstitious 
chaps among the philatelists of the Grover Cleveland 
period), and its second in the Eden Musee in New York 
in April, 1889. Mention of it was sandwiched in among 
those of the Musee's more popular attractions: 



Among the exhibitors were A. H. E. Burger, still one of 
the pillars of Nassau Street in 1939, R. R. Bogert, Henry 
C. Needham, John W. Scott (himself), E. R. Ackerman 


and other notables of the day. Thereafter, the Association- 
later Society grew rapidly in strength and influence. 

But in the middle '90*5, when the panic of '93 had given 
a setback to business, when one of the largest philatelic 
concerns, the C. H. Mekeel Stamp and Publishing Com- 
pany, had failed, when a philatelic pawnshop, an ugly omen, 
had been established in New York, when reprints and 
remainders were flooding the market, to the disgust of the 
more ethical collectors and dealers, when the old-line gen- 
eral collectors were becoming irritated by specialization and 
the growing tendency of nations to issue commemoratives 
and pictorials by the dozen then, not by the million, as 
now notes of pessimism crept into editorial and organiza- 
tion councils, and some began wondering whether philately 
hadn't seen its best days and fallen into the seventh age of 
man, the Sere and Yellow. It had lasted some forty years, 
they pointed out, and that was as much as could be ex- 
pected of any fad. But these gloomy crystal-gazings appar- 
ently fell upon deaf ears, for by 1905 it was guessed that 
there must be half a million stamp collectors in the United 
States; undoubtedly an overestimate, though there could 
be no denying the fact that their number had grown and 
was continuing to grow enormously. 



IOR TWO or three decades 

CHAPTER FOUR ! ^^ be _ 


gan, it was naturally sup- 
posed that a real he-collector would stop at nothing. The 
world was his field and all was fish that came to his net. 
When Oscar Berger-Levrault, publisher of the first stamp 
list, ceased collecting in 1870 because the Franco-Prussian 
War had forced him to remove his printing and engraving 
business, with its four hundred employees, from Strasburg 
to Nancy, and he was too distracted with getting a start 
in a new place to bother with a hobby he sold his collec- 
tion, which numbered 10,400 varieties. In September, 1861, 
he had had only 673 stamps. But he remarked in after years 
that in 1870 he lacked only about fifty of having everything 
extant. That in thirty years from the appearance of the 
first stamp, more than ten thousand varieties had appeared, 
was an ominous sign; it indicated that the philatelist of 
the future who tried to collect all countries was going to 
have an increasingly colossal chore on his hands. Perhaps 
that was why some men such as Mr. W. Hughes-Hughes, 
the English barrister already mentioned, ceased collecting 
about that time. 

Furthermore, it must be remembered that their concep- 
tion of the word "variety" at that date was much narrower 



than that of today, when slight flaws and differences in the 
same type and same issue of stamps, scratches, evidences of 
plate-repair work and so on serve to give the majority of 
stamps in a single sheet an individuality of their own and 
are therefore considered collectible. Faint nuances in the 
shades of ink used at different printings on the same stamp, 
the growing importance of sheet margins, with their several 
markings, these add varieties of which Berger-Levrault and 
his contemporaries never dreamed. But for decades there 
were men who struggled to achieve the impossible, and a 
few who came near enough to be classed among the im- 
mortals of philately. 

A casual sort of Birchin Lane gathering of collectors 
and traders had begun in Paris in the i86o's. For a time it 
met in the gardens of the Tuileries, but too many outsiders 
hung around and got in the way. Finally a nook behind 
some Punch and Judy marionette stands at the corner of 
the Avenues Gabriel and Marigny, opposite the President's 
palace in the Champs Elyse'es, was discovered, and there 
the Bourse transferred itself early in the 'yo's. Ever since, 
it has met there on Thursday afternoons (a school holiday 
in France) and all day Sunday save when the tax collec- 
tor suddenly appears, and then it vanishes like blown steam; 
for those who sell there have for years sold without a 
license. On June ist, 1939, however, the law divided the 
gathering into two groups; one, the pure amateurs, mostly 
children who do nothing but buy or trade stamps with 
each other, the other the dealers, who must now pay a 
two-hundred-fifty-franc (about $6.62) license. As the year's 
sales of all the sidewalk dealers, so they say, amount to no 
more than ten thousand dollars, the license fee is regarded 
as ruinous, and there is talk of taking the exchange indoors. 


But war has come along since then, and Mars and the tax 
combined may wreck the old mart for good. 

Among early frequenters of the Bourse was an Italo- 
Austrian youth named Phillippe Ferrari or Ferrary, who had 
money to buy anything he wanted; a slender lad with Teu- 
tonic blue eyes, but with traces of his Mediterranean an- 
cestry in his countenance. He first appeared in the stamp 
shops of Paris before 1870, accompanied by his mother, the 
widowed Duchess de Galliera. The founder of the fortune 
had been a Genoese banker who wrought so well among 
the lira that when he died he left to his son a goodly seg- 
ment of the city of Genoa, not to mention stocks and 
bonds and gold and frankincense and myrrh. His son, pos- 
sessor of so much wealth, became, in the normal course of 
things, Duke of Galliera and Prince of Lucedio, just as our 
American millionaires become Doctors of Laws. There is a 
pretty story to the effect that he had a secret "library" to 
which no one was admitted, and to which during his life- 
time not even his wife, a beautiful Austrian, had a key. 
After his death, she found on the shelves of that room 
some three hundred volumes, each fastened with a golden 
lock, and the leaves of those books were thousand-franc 
notes three million francs in all; from which it would ap- 
pear that there were only ten leaves to each volume which 
seems to us a rather prodigal waste of golden locks and 
fine bindings and shelf space. It made a good story in the 
days when governments were creditable and corporations 
sound, but it leaves us cold now. 

Anyhow, the Duke and Prince had what it takes, and 
when he died his widow, perhaps not liking the assorted 
odors of Genoa and seeking a better ton, went right up to 
Paris and bought the mansion in the Rue de Varenne 
which had been built in 1721 for the Marechal de Mont- 


morency not that cousin of Happy Hooligan's that we 
used to see in the Opper cartoons another one. When the 
Duchess died, not long afterward, she left the mansion to 
her native Austria, but her young son Phillippe was to have 
the use of one wing for life. After her death, the youth 
became the adopted son of Ritter E. la Renotiere von 
Kriegsfeld, a distinguished Austrian officer. Some years 
later the young heir decided that he would henceforth be 
known as Phillippe la Renotiere, but after a few years more 
he resumed his paternal surname, hooking it to his adopted 
name with the German "von," so that he emerged with 
the curiously jumbled cognomen, Phillippe la Renotiere 
von Ferrary. In writing letters and checks for Anglo-Saxon 
correspondents, he frequently spelled his first name 
"Philip," after their manner. 

His unlimited means soon made him the world's num- 
ber-one menace to all other collectors who craved rarities, 
but there is much generosity and amiability mellowing the 
rivalry of philatelists, and Ferrary was not hated as poison- 
ously as one might expect. He was aided in his collecting 
by the fact that, beginning in the latter iSyo's, some of 
the great British general collectors began selling their 
stamps, partly because some of them were growing old, 
but probably in part because some of them began to have 
a feeling of discouragement at the thought of ever catching 
up with the swelling flood of new issues, surcharges and 
varieties, some of which were being deliberately promoted 
by certain small governments. It is noticeable that some of 
these men, after selling their general collections, began 
again, specializing in one or two countries. 

In 1878, Sir Daniel Cooper sold his collection to Judge 
Philbrick-"Mr. Philbrick, Q. C.," as he was usually called 
over there for 3,000; and only two or three years later, 


Philbrick sold out to Ferrary for 8,000, then a record price. 
Laymen, especially in America, began to be aghast at the 
madness of these hobbyists. "A Frenchman has paid an 
Englishman $40,000 for his collection of old postage 
stamps/' wrote a New York editor, speaking of the Phil- 
brick-Ferrary deal. "The Fool Killer ought to stand in the 
middle of the English Channel and kick both ways/' But 
the Fool Killer did nothing about it, and in 1882, Dr. W. E. 
Image, another eminent British collector, sold his stamps 
to Thomas K. Tapling for 3,000, giving Mr. Tapling 
for the time being probably the world's greatest collec- 
tionthough before Tapling died in 1891, Ferrary had sur- 
passed him. Tapling left his collection to the British Mu- 
seum, which put many fine stamps beyond any collector's 
reach for all time. By 1897 it was estimated that Ferrary 
had spent $1,250,000 on his collection, and he had become 
the Colossus, the Rockefeller, the Prester John of philately. 
For forty years he had the pick of all the great collections 
that came on the market, and he never failed to take it. 
When a good stamp fell into his collection, it was spoken 
of as having gone to the graveyard, for he intended leaving 
the whole thing to the Imperial Post Museum at Berlin. 
Ferrary became embittered at France and was naturalized 
as a Swiss subject in 1908. When war broke out in 1914, 
he was in Holland. He returned to France early in 1916, 
but soon went thence to Switzerland. When he tried to 
return to Paris, the French authorities would not permit it, 
well knowing his Austrian sympathies and his grudge at 
France. Within a few months he was dead. As to the 
clause in his will bequeathing the collection to the museum 
in Berlin, the French Government with the charming 
disregard of personal wishes and rights peculiar to countries 
in a state of war just laughed that off and seized the col- 

An American post office of 1860. 

From the Collection of Philip H. Ward, Jr. 

A $20,000 page The United States "August issue/' 1861, all 
unused: one of only about eight complete sets known. The 


lection. Stanley Gibbons, Ltd., of London, offered France 
twelve million francs for it, but all offers were refused, and 
the collection was sold at auction in fourteen sales dis- 
tributed over the period from 1921 to 1925. Thus the great- 
est mass of stamps in the universe, including most of the 
major rarities and an enormous number of duplicates, was 
broken up, undoubtedly to the great benefit of philately, 
and passed into many hands. A number of the rarities were 
bought by Arthur Hind, a rich manufacturer of Utica, 
N. Y., who had to a certain extent succeeded Tiffany as 
America's greatest general collector. 

But neither Ferrary nor Hind endeavored to keep fully 
abreast of the avalanche of commemorative and pictorial 
stamps which rushed forth in their latter years, and even 
Hind was to some extent a specialist. He had what has 
been called the world's greatest collection of United States 
and Confederate stamps, but there were other countries 
which he neglected. A few general collectors, such as Lord 
Camoys of Henley and Thomas Clark of Edinburgh held 
out in Britain until well into the twentieth century. F. W. 
Ayer, a young man of Bangor, Maine, started building a 
great collection at lightning speed towards the close of the 
nineteenth century, but his father threatened to disin- 
herit him if he didn't stop wasting so much money, where- 
upon he closed out large blocks of his finest stamps to the 
Gibbons Company of London, and his collection declined 
even more rapidly than it had grown. 

A writer in the American Journal of Philately in 1869-70, 
signing himself "Cosmopolitan," was a pioneer in the idea 
of specialization. He suggested the gathering of Presiden- 
tial and Congressional franked covers, and a few months 
later urged that collectors go in for United States Revenues, 
then still untouched. His hint as to franks unfortunately 


went unheeded for many years, but revenues were taken 
up seriously not so long after that. 

Very early in the history of philately, the physical pecu- 
liarities of and variations in stamps began to be studied, 
and as time went on, came to be regarded by a few as legiti- 
mate varieties. "Dr. Magnus" (Dr. J. A. Legrand, noted 
French pundit) was writing on watermarks in stamp paper 
as early as 1865. Perforations, the thicknesses of paper, 
cracked plates and variations in the stamps of a sheet were 
observed by some collectors in the 'yo's, but the man who 
collected them as varieties usually had to endure some 
jeering and was regarded as a crank. European collectors 
were pursuing these little oddities with much zest, but 
what could you expect of an effete continent like that? A 
writer in the Philatelic Monthly in 1880, more advanced 
than many of his fellows, recommended that "the Amer- 
ican school of philatelists" collect the distinct varieties of 
perforation, such as perforated, rouletted and imperforate, 
and instances where there is a marked difference in the 
size of perforations, as in the Austrian stamps, but go no 
farther. Next, he suggested collecting stamps both water- 
marked and unwatermarked, only the extreme variations 
in paper, such as very thick or very thin, "and distinct varie- 
ties of colors, dies and types." This, he thought, would be 
"extensive enough to suit the majority of collectors, and 
still would not be as perplexing and multitudinous as the 
European school," whose attention to minute details was 
"carrying the thing too far." 

Naturally, his advice was susceptible to a wide latitude in 
interpretation. And of course collectors nowadays are carry- 
ing such things farther than any expert of 1880 ever 
dreamed of as a possibility; which doesn't mean that any 


new collector need feel that he must go in for such particu- 
larity in order to have a lot of fun out of philately. 

Collectors thought more and more seriously of paper 
and perforations after 1880, and also began to accumulate 
whole sheets. The rapid multiplication of collectible items 
bred a growing tendency to specialize during the next two 
decades. Many went in strongly for American stamps 
among them Hiram E. Beats of Flemington, New Jersey, 
whose specialties at one time and another were American 
postage and revenues, and the provisional stamps issued by 
certain postmasters in 1845-46, before our national adhe- 
sive stamps were issued, and by many Southern postmasters 
in 1861, before the Confederate Government could get its 
own new stamps off the presses. 

George H. Watson, a New York broker, was making a 
specialty of post cards in the '90*5, of which he was said to 
have one of the finest collections in existence. W. Sell- 
schopp of San Francisco even concentrated on African post 
cards! And in New York City there was a post-card society. 
Charles B. Corwin was one of the earliest in America to 
take up perforations and watermarks in a big way. Mr. 
Corwin, incidentally, was the leading spirit in the organiza- 
tion in 1896 of the Collectors Club of New York, the 
greatest philatelic society in this hemisphere, which has 
members from coast to coast, and even in foreign countries. 
Gilbert E. Jones, one of the owners of the New York 
Times, was a specialist in unperforated stamps, particu- 
larly in pairs, of which he was said to have twelve hundred 

Before the end of the century, the idea of collecting 
used stamps on the entire envelope had arrived. John F. 
Seybold, a business man of Syracuse, N. Y., has been given 
credit for introducing it. He began collecting before 1870, 


and quite early in his career developed a fancy for the 
whole envelope. Dealers laughed at his eccentricity for 
years principally because they had so few entire covers to 
offer him but by 1890 they were beginning to respect the 
notion, for others had taken it up. The stamped envelope 
aided in this trend. At first and for many years collectors 
just saved a square corner cut out of such envelopes. Some 
dealers in 1877 were paying fifteen cents per hundred for 
the one- and two-centers cut square, and fifty cents per 
hundred for the three-centers. But in 1885 it was remarked 
in the Philatelic World that "The collection of envelope 
stamps seems to be going out of fashion. . . . Many are 
taking them out of their collections and getting rid of 
them at any price. They either do not collect them at all, 
or insist on having the entire envelope." 

Thereafter, collectors began to see the historical and 
human interest in the whole envelope. The trouble was 
that at the beginning, we were too young a nation, the 
stamp was still too new a thing, collectors were still too 
amateurish to be aware of connotations. But by 1900, the 
peeling of stamps of any consequence off the envelopes 
had practically ceased to be done by any real collector; 
and by that time, some had begun to be interested in let- 
ters of the ante-stamp era; quaint things of all sizes and 
all sorts of papers, with the name of the sending office, the 
amount of postage and the words "Paid" or "Collect" 
hand-stamped or scrawled here and there around the ad- 
dress by the postmasters, sometimes one or another of 
these things omitted, sometimes other data added, all a 
haphazard, delightful jumble to puzzle over, and some mys- 
teries of which haven't been solved to this day. 

Furthermore, the collecting of the entire cover aided in 
the preservation of the stamp. In the nineteenth century, 


before tweezers or glassine had been thought of, stamps 
were carried in wallets, pocket notebooks and envelopes, 
mounted, dismounted and remounted in albums and ban- 
died about by sweaty or greasy fingers until many fine old 
stamps were ruined or greatly reduced in value. Modern 
philately is much better equipped; tweezers take the place 
of oily epidermis, while the invention of glassine or cello- 
phane has been a godsend. Loose stamps and whole covers 
are now carried about in transparent envelopes, and many 
a rarity retires for the rest of its days to the security of 
such a casing, seldom or never thereafter to be touched by 
human hands. Whole album leaves in some of the finer 
collections are immured in such coverings and their seren- 
ity never disturbed. 

Surcharges, the overprinting of stamps with different 
values, colony names, and so forth, became numerous be- 
tween 1880 and 189080 numerous, especially in the 
French colonies, that there were complaints that the 
French were racketeering in them at the expense of phi- 
latelists. Old conservatives like J. W. Scott and others re- 
fused to recognize a surcharge as a variety or collectible. 
Scott read a paper denouncing them before the Brooklyn 
Philatelic Club in 1896 and worked up so much feeling 
that the Anti-Surcharge Association was formed, with 
ninety-four charter members, which roster increased within 
six months to 235. The "radical" group, which included 
men like John N. Luff, later a great historian of United 
States stamps, R. R. Bogert, Henry Caiman and others, 
refused to enter the society, as did others who had fine 
collections of surcharges. 

Scott and others of the old school disapproved for many 
years of the collection of perforations, watermarks, paper 
variations and other vain gewgaws, and were advocates of 


space-filling: that is, if you couldn't get a genuine stamp 
and a good stamp of a certain kind, you should fill its space 
in your album with a proof of it, a reprint (even a counter- 
feit, some said, though letting it be known as such), or 
with the best specimen you could get, whether it be ragged, 
torn, dirty, greasy or canceled almost into indistinguish- 
ability. But the present-day collector says: "A real stamp 
and a reasonably good stamp, or none." 

Buying of stamps in sheets inevitably led to conscious- 
ness of the printers' markings on the margins the little 
arrowhead which marks the middle of the sheet, for ex- 
ample. The first thing the old conservatives knew, younger 
and more rabid fans were accumulating "arrow pairs" of 
the new and recent stamps. One finds sneers at this fad in 
the magazines of 1889. Just a passing fancy, it was thought; 
but ask any dyed-in-the-wool collector about it today! 

Producers of stamps number on the margin each plate 
from which sheets of stamps are printed as long as it is 
serviceable; then a new one, with the next consecutive 
number, is put into service. There naturally arose in the 
middle '8o's a hankering for a specimen of each plate num- 
ber, whence arose the collection of plate-number strips or 
blocks. Mr. Beats remembers that he began gathering them 
in 1887, when he was fifteen. The postmaster in his home 
town would just tear off the whole strip of stamps from the 
edge of the sheet where the number appeared and save it 
for him; and young Hiram Deats was one boy who could 
afford to indulge in such a hobby. When the Bureau of 
Engraving and Printing was set up in 1893 an< ^ *^ over 
the making of our stamps from the private bank-note com- 
panies, it began numbering its stamp plates from i, and 
that gave added stimulus to the plate-number fad. How- 
ever, after ten years of it, the numbers were piling up so 


that there was a slight reaction, a feeling of uneasiness at 
the thought of trying to cope with the situation. The writer 
of the Northwestern Notes in the Weekly Philatelic Era 
of 1904 remarks that "The plate number fad is about dead 
in the Northwest. What's the sense in collecting a lot of 
paper with a figure on it, which never has and never will 
be intended for postal or philatelical purposes? There are 
enough varieties without this senseless craze." Which 
proves that no man, living or dead, ever has been or ever 
will be able to predict trends in human fancy and conduct; 
and yet certain nervy chaps go right on doing it and even 
get paid for it H. G. Wells, for example. 

The plating of stamps was another epidemic which ap- 
peared among advanced collectors in Europe in the latter 
part of the century and presently spread to this country. 
To understand it, one must be aware that it is impossible 
for human beings to make any two things precisely alike. 
Every stamp on a sheet, whether there be one hundred or 
two hundred of them, will have its variations, though they 
may be almost indescribably slight nowadays, from every 
other stamp. In earlier decades, the variations were often 
more considerable. The problem is to identify every stamp 
on the sheet, its location, if possible to get a specimen of 
it; in other words, to reconstruct the sheet. The difficulty 
of doing this with some old stamp issued back there in the 
1840*8 or 'jo's may be faintly imagined by the uninitiated. 
And yet the heart of the beginner need not fail nor his 
brain reel at the thought. You should see some essays at 
reconstructing plates of the Great Britain "Penny Black" 
of 1840, the Adam of all stamps, which we observed in an 
exhibition the other day, the work of three boys, Andrew, 
Billy and Jack Heinemann of New York, aged ten, thirteen 
and fifteen respectively. There were many pairs, a block of 


four and a number of covers and some of the sheets were 
not far from completion. What those boys can do, any 
adult with brains enough to balance a checkbook can do, 
provided he has the inclination, perseverance and a little 

Plating had begun in America even in the '8o's, for it was 
before 1885 that E. Harrison Sanford, a noted collector of 
the period, was trying to plate the rare Brattleboro post- 
master provisional stamp one of the most difficult jobs of 
all, though the original sheet contained only ten stamps. 
The first Brattleboro that Sanford bought cost him fifty 
dollars, and he bought every copy that came on the market, 
nearly always at a higher price, until he had six. The last 
one cost him a hundred and twenty-five. He decided that 
his own buying was raising the price, and so ceased his 
attempt. That stamp today is quoted in the catalogues at 
$2,250 if on the original cover, or $1,250 off it! 

Those who know say that the greatest of the platers 
were Leslie Hausberg, a Briton, Charles Lathrop Pack and 
Dr. Carroll Chase, Americans. All began before 1900 and 
continued until well into the present century. All showed 
the tendency of the times by specializing in their collec- 
tions. Hausberg sold his collection of Victoria, the southern 
Australian colony, to King George V for something like 
ten thousand pounds. Pack, remembered by the lay public 
as a great forest conservationist, was said to have the finest 
collection of British North American ever brought together. 
He also collected Cape of Good Hope, some of the Aus- 
tralian colonies and South American countries. George V 
once wrote him a four-page letter, all in his own hand, 
enclosing some of his early Victoria stamps and asking Mr. 
Pack's help in plating them. 

As to Dr. Carroll Chase, a Brooklyn physician, a story 


told by Walter S. Scott, son of }. W. Scott and himself 
one of the eminent figures in philately these many years 
past, will be significant. Mr. Scott says that thirty-five or 
forty years ago he lunched one day with George R. Tuttle, 
a prominent New York stamp dealer, and Tuttle remarked 
in the course of the meal, "That man Chase is crazy; just 
plumb crazy." 

"What are the symptoms?" asked Scott. 

"Why, he's buying these three-cent U. S. 1 851*8 at thirty 
cents a hundred," replied Tuttle, "and sitting up until two 
or three o'clock in the morning, studying them." The 
sequel, Mr. Scott says, that what with plating, finding varia- 
tions and getting its full biological history, Chase made a 
hundred thousand dollars off that one stamp. He's been 
retired and living in Paris these several years past, and no 
doubt that humble, ugly little three-center contributed in 
no small degree to his present comfort which should be 
verbum sap to the present-day collector or the layman who 
is looking for a hobby that won't be a total loss. 

By 1890 some authorities were declaring that "speciali- 
zation is necessary to the life of philately." But by 1900 
others were wailing that it was killing philately; all this talk 
about thick and thin papers, watermarks, perforations, sur- 
charges, cracked plates and such was scaring possible neo- 
phytes away. Score another error for the conservatives and 
pessimists. Specialties have proved to be the backbone of 
stamp collecting. 

It is entertaining, too, to find a collector writing to a 
stamp magazine in 1875 to propound the staggering ques- 
tion, "What shall we do when our collections are com- 
plete?" Fancy that! A quarter century later the tune was 
different. So many new issues they seemed many then! 
were pouring out, so many varieties were being found in a 


single plate, so many errors and other rarities were becom- 
ing almost unattainable save by a few, that some Cassan- 
dras were now wailing that it would be impossible ever to 
complete their collections. To such pessimists Mekeel's 
Stamp Collector very wisely retorted in 1905: 

The word "completeness" ought to be expunged for 
all time from the philatelic vocabulary. Of course the 
general collector cannot hope to attain completeness. 
Who wants to? Who would think of it at all, as a 
thing to be desired, if the stamp press did not con- 
tinually bewail and moan over the fact that complete- 
ness is now impossible. Of course it is impossible! 
Why waste further words on the matter? 

Why, indeed! One of Mr. Beats' favorite sayings is "The 
fun is in the chase; not in the attainment." What would 
there be left for the hobbyist to do if he completed his 
collection? Life would become purposeless. Though it may 
never occur to him, "Excelsior" is always his motto. There 
is always something farther ahead, some Ultima Thule, 
some purple islet of perfection never to be reached, but 
which to strive for is the chief joy of life. To prove our 
point, take the sad case of a British philatelist, Mann, who 
bought the great collection of European stamps made by 
M. P. Castle, which, combined with what he had already, 
made his collection so nearly complete that he could add 
little or nothing to it, and so lost interest in Europe and 
sold everything to Stanley Gibbons, Ltd., in 1906 for 30,- 
ooo. He found some compensating balm thereafter, how- 
ever, in making new, great collections of the British colo- 
nies and other countries. 

Arthur Hind whom we shall speak of again later and 
J. Insley Blair were two of the last great general collectors 


on the continent. Both died not so long ago. Their leading 
contemporaries all restricted their collections in some way 
or other. There was E. R. Ackerman, for example, New 
Jersey congressman usually spoken of as Senator Acker- 
man, because he had also served in the New Jersey State 
Senate who collected only the countries he had visited; 
but before he became too old to travel, these numbered 
more than one hundred! He never got around to Australia, 
so that entire continent, several of the isles of the sea and 
a little backwoods state here and there did not appear 
among his stamps. Harold D. Watson, New York attorney, 
claims to be a general collector with certain minor excep- 
tions. He began collecting in 1879, and though for a few 
decades, he says, he tolerated and included new political 
units as they appeared, when it comes to Fiume, Eritrea, 
Cyrenaica, North Ingermanland, Tannou Touva, Azerba- 
jian, Hellandgone and these other little upstart Pinocchios 
of the present turbulent century, he just ignores them. 

In the past three decades, one frequently finds collec- 
tions bounded by the year 1900. The late Charles Curie, 
one of America's great, would have only nineteenth-century 
stamps of all countries. William E. Hawkins, also dead, 
went a step farther and demanded nothing but nineteenth- 
century unused. On the other side of the line is Mrs. Caro- 
line Prentiss Cromwell, who has admittedly the finest 
twentieth-century collection all stages, used and unused, 
sheets, blocks, errors and varieties in existence. But even 
she, disconcerted by the swelling tide of made-to-sell 
stamps now sweeping over the world, has ceased buying 
the new issues during the past two or three years. 

William Thorne of New York, a semi-invalid, had a fine 
general collection in the '8o's and '90*8, but thinking him- 
self wearied with the strain of pursuing rarities, he sold out. 


Finding, however, that his health declined thereafter, he 
began again, and this time would have nothing but blocks 
of four. Many speak of him as the originator of this type 
of collecting. It was, moreover, the belief of those who 
knew him best that his interest in stamps prolonged his 
life by many years. After him, George H. Worthington, 
Ohio traction magnate, who specialized in several coun- 
tries, was most noted for his blocks of four and unused 
specimens. Of the Crocker brothers of San Francisco, kins- 
men of one of the Pacific Railroad builders, Henry J. built 
great collections of Hawaii and Japan. The latter was lost 
in the mighty earthquake and fire of 1906, but the Hawaiis 
had been taken to London for an exhibition and so es- 
caped. William H. Crocker was strong on America and 
Australia. H. J. Duveen had the most nearly complete col- 
lection of British Guiana in existence, but even lacked the 
1856 rarity, the unique error which has become the Koh-i- 
Noor of philately. Henry G. Mandel, long connected with 
the American Bank Note Company, had, as a natural re- 
sult, a remarkable collection of proofs. 

In an article, "Collecting the Unfashionable/' John N. 
Luff in 1898 called attention to "regions unexplored" by 
American collectors in South America, Africa, Asia and the 
Pacific and some thereafter followed his advice. But there 
were other and even more thrilling terrae inoognirae nearer 
home which he failed to mention; the Indian Territory, for 
example, that strangest political unit in our history, of 
which Dr. Chase made such a remarkable collection, in- 
cluding many covers of the pre-stamp era; and the Texas 
Republic, which Christian Dull of Pennsylvania and Harry 
M. Konwiser of New York have gone into in a searching 

And thus the special gradually but steadily took the place 


of the general. Today it has reached a point which to the 
fathers of philately would have seemed worse than fan- 
tastic. There are those who collect only air-mail stamps, 
and dealers who handle nothing else; some who center on 
Zeppelin-carried covers; others who go in for the thousand 
and one ramifications of the postmark and cancellation 
category, which we shall survey in a later chapter. The new 
commemorative and pictorial stamps, irritating as they are 
to old-line philatelists, have opened up a vast new field of 
ideas, both to beginner and seasoned collector. Today the 
only general collectors are the kids just emerging from 
rompers, to whom a stamp from any part of the world is 
a treasure though even they now begin specializing at a 
comparatively early age. The best authorities say that there 
is not a serious adult philatelist today who is trying for a 
real general collection, omitting nothing. That has become 
a Jovian feat which no one in his right mind cares to at- 


IHE FIRM of Perkins, Bacon 


& Fetch of London 


printed England's and the 
world's first adhesive stamps. Curiously enough, the con- 
cern was founded by a Boston Yankee, Jacob Perkins, who 
went over to England in 1819 to compete for the bank- 
note contract of the Bank of England. He first took in two 
partners named Fairman and Heath, and by 1840 had 
added Bacon and Fetch. Perkins's daughter, by the way, 
married Bacon. After 1852 the firm was Perkins, Bacon & 
Company, and there it is to this day. Their original bid on 
the stamp job, made in December, 1839, quoted eight- 
pence per thousand, provided the paper was furnished 
them. It finally came down to y>^d, including gumming 
and plates, which was possible because so many more let- 
ters were mailed than anybody had expected. Next it was 
reduced to 6y 2 d and then to 4^d, which price continued 
until the contract expired in 1880. During the first fifteen 
years alone, the firm supplied three billion stamps to the 

But worthy competition arose in the United States and 
American firms even found jobs in the British colonies. 
When the American Bank Note Company engraved the 
Nova Scotia stamp of 1860, bearing the profile of Queen 



Victoria, some English editors generously admitted it to be 
the world's most beautiful stamp, and one even called it 
"the Queen of stamps." The condition is reversed now, and 
the old engravers across the water are doing on the whole 
rather better work than our Bureau of Engraving and 

Of course every stamp design must go through a long 
process of preliminary sketches which are criticized by this, 
that and the other governmental official until finally some- 
thing is agreed upon and a finished drawing and die made; 
then there are proofs taken in various colors, perhaps a 
change or two made in the die, perhaps the whole die 
thrown out and a new one made, in some cases the whole 
idea finally rejected and the job begun all over again with 
new sketches. All these sketches and proofs are an impor- 
tant part of the life history of the stamp, and the collec- 
tion of them, when possible, is an interesting and impor- 
tant branch of philately. The Earl of Crawford had by 
1900 formed a magnificent collection of this sort, tracing 
almost every American stamp design to its ante-natal stage, 
sometimes even to the first rough pencil sketch. Thereafter 
he showed every stage in its development; he followed it 
through its period of use, showing the varying shades of 
the different printings, the obliterations and changes, the 
reissues, reprintings and forgeries. He had equally fine col- 
lections of the sort for Great Britain and Italy. 

The engravers and printers in those private establish- 
ments in early days thought nothing of striking off a few 
proofs in the various colors for themselves, just as keep- 
sakes. As collectors became more interested in such items, 
the employees of the engraving companies were easily per- 
suaded to run off from the government dies entrusted to 
them a few proofs for collector acquaintances. The govern- 


ments became more rigid in their demands that their dies 
be protected, and the giving away of proofs in foreign shops 
became rare by 1900. Of course the United States Bureau 
of Engraving and Printing forbids the private taking of 
proofs, and how so many get into collectors' hands is a 
dark mystery. When an old English engraver, Herbert 
Bourne, died in 1907, collectors found with anguish that, 
faithful to the government's wishes, he had destroyed most 
of his old proofs and essays; but Fred J. Melville, noted 
philatelic publicist, was able to lay hands upon some thirty 
or forty that were left. 

The story of the mechanics of our first stamp issue was 
told to a reporter in 1897 by W. T. Silby, then 84 years 
of age, who had been, in Polk's Administration, the special 
agent of the Post Office Department sent to New York to 
superintend the issuing of our first two stamps. Cave John- 
son was then Postmaster-General, and Rawdon, Wright, 
Hatch & Edson was the firm that produced those stamps 
of 1847. The first order was for sixty-five thousand dollars' 
worth of the fives and tens. After the printing, the plates 
were enclosed in large envelopes, sealed with R., W., H. 
& E.'s seal on one end, and Silby's on the other, and the 
envelopes deposited in the New York Custom House. Be- 
fore leaving the city, Silby left four thousand dollars' worth 
of the stamps with the New York Post Office; stopped in 
Philadelphia and left three thousand dollars' worth with 
the postmaster there, and took the rest to Washington. 
Within a short time, the issue was so nearly exhausted that 
a much larger printing was ordered. 

There were comparatively few changes made in the first 
two decades of our stamps. Now and then a postmaster- 
general would come in who wanted to see a new design 
produced during his incumbency, but this didn't happen 


ISSUE, 1871 


From Philadelphia collections, courtesy Philip H. Ward, Jr. 

United States revenue inverted centers, including the unique 
25 cent unused, and (bottom center) the only known unused 

. -.K. ,V1?V:!" 

From the Collection of Philip H. Ward, /r. 

Inverted center stamps of the world, including the Argentine 
10 pesos, the Bolivian air mail, the Canal Zone i centesimo 


often, and one idea always held; the stamps always pre- 
sented portraits of deceased statesmen, with Washington's 
greatly predominating, and always on the three-center 
which carried the ordinary letter. Then in 1869 came that 
revolutionary series with pony-express riders, locomotives 
and other novelties, some of them in two colors. It de- 
lighted the stamp collectors, but upset many conservatives 
and all Democratic editors terribly. One thing not generally 
known is that it was first intended to use a picture of the 
surrender of Burgoyne at Saratoga on the bi-colored thirty- 
cent stamp, but fear of hurting British sensibilities arose, 
and at the last moment this was eliminated and the hasty 
concoction of eagle, shield and flags which was so derided 
by certain critics and which, when one color was inverted, 
made a frightful mess was substituted. The uproar over 
that series was a lesson to the Post Office Department, and 
it didn't stray from the beaten path again for twenty-four 

Rawdon, Wright, Hatch & Edson held the stamp con- 
tract for ten years, and then the Continental Bank Note 
Company took over in 1857. From that time until 1893 
the Continental, National and American Bank Note Com- 
panies took the contract away from each other every few 
years. The American finally absorbed the Continental and 
held the job for the last fourteen, nearly fifteen, years be- 
fore the United States Bureau of Engraving and Printing 
undertook the work, and has continued to do it ever since. 

Meanwhile, the printing of stamped envelopes was being 
done by other companies, and a curious story of trade 
rivalry in 1874 is one of the incidents of this history. The 
Reay Company's contract expired that year, and when bids 
were received, the Department awarded the new contract 
to the lowest bidder, the Plympton Manufacturing Com- 


pany of Hartford, Connecticut. Plymptons had never be- 
fore made stamped envelopes, and to prevent them from 
carrying out the contract within the time specified, the 
Reay concern hastily hired all the best die sinkers in the 
country, with the specification that they were to do noth- 
ing for a month. The Plympton Company found second- 
rate engravers to do the work and explained the situation 
to the government. The latter agreed to accept such dies as 
they could make until better ones could be procured; and 
thus was born the "Booby Head" envelope and other curi- 
osities of 1874. When Plymptons could employ the better 
workmen again, many of the poor envelopes were called in 
and destroyed. 

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing came near losing 
the stamp contract on two occasions. Costs rose constantly 
during the first ten years of its monopoly, and the Post 
Office began to wonder whether the work couldn't be done 
more economically by private hands. Bids were requested 
in 1903, but only two bidders responded the Bureau and 
the American Bank Note Company. The Bureau, taking 
advantage, as some government agencies are doing now, of 
its exemption from necessity for showing a profit or even 
keeping out of the red, bid lower than the Bank Note 
Company by several thousand dollars, admitting that this 
meant working at a loss, which must be made up by the 
Treasury Department; but it was pointed out that it would 
be better to keep the work in the Bureau even at a loss 
than to discharge five hundred employees not that the 
politicians were worrying about the welfare of the employ- 
ees so greatly, but because such action would make such 
glorious campaign material for the opposition, the Demo- 

That flurry blew over, but again in 1906 bids were asked, 


and this time the American Bank Note Company actually 
underbid the Bureau. Headlines in the newspapers read, 
"Uncle Sam Loses Stamp Contract." But not so fast; again 
Postmaster-General Cortelyou gave the work to the Bureau, 
despite the fact that the private concern's figure meant a 
saving to the government of seventeen thousand dollars 

These bids were based on a new and startling idea; that 
of engraving the names of twenty-six of the largest cities in 
the country on the stamps issued to them, and surcharging 
the names of the other six thousand post offices in the 
country on their stamps as they were ordered. By this 
means, it was said, the large cities would receive credit 
which they were not now getting for business done. The 
public was reminded that Liberia engraved the names of 
its five principal towns on its stamps. But Mexico had tried 
the same idea and given it up. The New York Sun, how- 
ever, very quickly saw "A Bonanza for Uncle Sam"; there 
would be ninety thousand new varieties of stamps, and 
though the face value of the whole series would be only 
$9.27, for a collector to buy all the post offices would cost 
him $55,620! Many collectors saw ruin staring them in the 

The precanceling of stamps with the name of the city 
had been authorized twenty years before, with the over- 
printing done by local printing houses. The "1907 issue" 
of cities never materialized, but not until 1916, when the 
Bureau began precanceling with city names, was the idea 
finally dropped. In 1929 it was revived again in a different 
form, when the Department ordered stamps to be sur- 
charged with state names, as one means of combating 
theft. Kansas and Nebraska were the first states experi- 
mented upon, and as expected, every collector wanted a 


complete set of all denominations with those words "Kan- 
sas" and "Nebraska" overprinted on them. The scheme 
never went any farther than those two states. 

The person who likes to prowl through old printing may 
have a pleasant hour now and then in reading the ferocious 
criticisms of some of our stamp issues of the past, as uttered 
alternately by philatelists and lay editors. When John 
Wanamaker became Postmaster-General under President 
Benjamin Harrison, he went in for economy; used a 
cheaper paper, mostly wood pulp, which tore readily, espe- 
cially as the perforation was below standard. Other animad- 
versions were flung about at the annual meeting of the 
A. P. A. in 1890, and Mr. Wanamaker's ears must have 
burned unpleasantly. The two-center was said to appear in 
all shades, from light pink to ox-blood; one collector said 
he had counted twenty-five shades. Moreover, it and all the 
others faded readily. The American Journal of Philately 
said, "The heads on the one- and two-cent stamps are those 
of boobies, and not of statesmen of the United States, as 
they purport to be." 

Wanamaker might have been trying with that poor ink 
to combat the washing off of cancellations, which had 
been going on ever since the year One, and was especially 
pestiferous in the case of the revenue stamps. There was 
constant talk in postal and revenue offices of trying to find 
"fugitive colors"; colors which would dissolve easily and 
yet, darn it, not too easily! Pale, anemic colors were pro- 
posed but seldom tried, and the problem remains not quite 
solved to this day, though one device and another, such as 
meter stamping, precancellation, care in handling larger de- 
nominations, and so on, have greatly reduced its preva- 

The series of 1902, on the other hand, was fairly well 


liked by collectors, but newspapers and art pundits roasted 
it so hotly that the Post Office became ashamed of it. The 
design of the two-cent was declared ' 'inartistic and clumsy." 
The New York Times reported on Feb. 21, 1903, that 
"Yielding to popular clamor, the Government is to retire 
the issue of two-cent stamps, though the Post Office De- 
partment still insists, in the face of overwhelming evidence, 
that the portrait thereon is that of Washington and not of 
Mr. Dooley, as the best authorities have decided." It was 
also complained that the picture gave Washington a toper's 
red nose. Franklin's portrait on the one-cent stamp re- 
minded the Times editor of those heel-less stockings which 
amateur knitters used to turn out long ago. Furthermore, 
it was "supported on either side by two nude male figures, 
probably 'writhing on amarinthine asphodel' caryatids 
which support nothing unless it be the absurdity of the 
design. In miniature they suggest 'worms for bait.' " The 
writhing, under these strictures, of Mr. R. Ostrander 
Smith, the artist who designed the stamp, must have ri- 
valed that of the nude males. 

In that same year, a post card with full-face view of 
President McKinley was issued by error from rejected 
plates. Only about five hundred of these precondemned 
cards got outside of the Bureau building, and they were 
all printed with the address of a New York contracting 
firm. Perhaps three hundred of them went through the 
mails, and copies of them are therefore rare. On July i, 
1902, the familiar card with the profile of McKinley re- 
placed this one. 

Mention of R. O. Smith reminds us that same remark- 
able collections have been made of the source material of 
our stamps. No nineteenth-century collections in this coun- 
try, of course, compare with that of the Earl of Crawford, 


who cornered very nearly everything relating to our stamp 
biology of that century. But the Earl did not live long 
enough to make a collection of our twentieth-century 
stamp sources, and some notable efforts have been made in 
this direction, despite the rule of the Bureau of Engraving 
and Printing that everything of that sort must remain in its 
vaults forever. 

Many of the items are easily procurable by the beginner; 
as for example, a photograph of the St. Gaudens statue of 
Lincoln in Chicago, partly reproduced on the Lincoln com- 
memorative stamp of 1909, one of the John Ericsson Me- 
morial at Washington for that stamp of 1926, another of 
the youthful Washington statue at Braddock, Pennsyl- 
vania, for the commemorative of the memorable battle of 
1755. For the Jamestown issue of 1907, you just have pho- 
tographic copies made of the John Smith and Pocahontas 
copperplate engravings in Smith's book, which were re- 
produced on the stamp. Most of the portraits of famous 
men and women which have been appearing on our stamps 
in recent years may be found somewhere in the form of 
photographs or engravings in old books, and they may be 
searched out and copies made of them to mount along with 
the stamp. There are other photographs to gather, too. In 
the hero-pair designs of 1935-37 vou wm " notice that on 
the Houston-Austin stamp, in addition to the portraits, you 
must have a straight front view of the Alamo; on the Lee- 
Jackson, the south front view of Stratford Hall, the old 
home of the Lees; on the Washington-Greene, Mount 
Vernon; on the Andrew Jackson-Scott, the Hermitage, and 
so on. 

Photographs of famous paintings which appear on 
stamps may be had, too, if you will seek for them; of Trum- 
bull's picture of the surrender of Burgoyne for the Saratoga 


stamp, McRae's of Washington at Valley Forge, and even 
the several paintings used in our great Columbian series 
of '93 may be found if you are persistent enough. Some 
others are not so easy. The Trans-Mississippi series of 1898 
had some interesting history. Lamprecht's painting, "Mar- 
quette on the Mississippi" was an early selection for one 
of the series, but for a long time the original painting 
couldn't be found. It was finally located in Marquette 
College, Milwaukee, and used on the one-cent stamp. For 
the two-cent a photograph called "Farming in North 
Dakota" was selected, a scene on the Amenia and Sharon 
Land Company's farm at Amenia, N. D. Some easterners 
in government employ objected that no farm owner in the 
world owned such a collection of farm machinery; they had 
no conception of the magnitude of prairie farming. That 
land company bought a vast quantity of the two-cent 
stamps of that issue, and for years thereafter, every letter 
leaving their office had one of those stamps on one upper 
corner and on the other a reproduction of the original view, 
which also appeared on their letterhead. The manager told 
George B. Sloane (who was looking these things up for 
his column in Stamps) that another concern had once 
written to him, asking how they might go about influencing 
Washington to use a picture from their business on a 

"Hardships of Emigration" on the ten-cent stamp of the 
same series might prove difficult to locate. It was repro- 
duced from a painting lent by the artist, A. G. Heaton, and 
when Mr. Sloane tried to locate it in 1936, Heaton's son 
couldn't tell him where the painting was; it had been sold 
after his father's death and disappeared from his ken. For 
the one-dollar, "Western Cattle in a Storm," we cadged an 


etching by an English artist, MacWhirter, who called his 
picture "The Vanguard." 

Sloane also dug up an interesting bit about the Panama- 
Pacific one-center, which bore a fine portrait of the ex- 
plorer, Vasco Nunez de Balboa. The Balboa Motion Pic- 
ture Company were a prominent outfit operating in Cali- 
fornia at the time, and they adopted this stamp as their 
own. Like the land company, they bought an enormous 
number, enough to last long after the Post Office had 
ceased issuing them, and all correspondence leaving the 
Balboa office thereafter bore that stamp; but the sad sequel 
is that the company collapsed before its stock of commem- 
orative stamps was used up. 

A publicity man for the New York Central Railroad 
succeeded in wangling a picture of the Empire State Ex- 
press into the two-cent stamp of the Pan-American series 
of 1901 but from what photograph? For a long time the 
real original couldn't be found. King and Johl, in their 
United States Postage Stamps of the Twentieth Century, 
used a photograph closely resembling the picture on the 
stamp, it being generally believed that the Bureau artists 
had just doctored the design a bit. But the seasoned rail- 
road bugs kept muttering that the real picture hadn't been 
found yet; that in the King-Johl picture the engine was a 
4-4-2 job, the combination car was all wrong, the train was 
too nearly head-on. Finally Allen M. Thatcher jubilantly 
reported in Stamps in 1937 that he had found the true 
original in the collection of railroad photographs of C. B. 
Chancy of New York, and that it had been made by a 
photographer in Syracuse. Perhaps he would like to sell a 
few more prints. 

The experts had reason to suspect that the train picture 
might have been altered, for the Bureau artists frequently 


do this. Compare the photograph for the Arbor Day stamp 
of 1932, for which the little son and daughter of the Di- 
rector of the Bureau posed, with the stamp, and you will 
find that the children have been moved considerably closer 
to the young tree than they were in the photograph. A still 
more pointed example is that of the Washington Inaugural 
commemorative scene of 1939, taken from a small painting 
by Alonzo Chappell owned by Oscar T. Barck of Brooklyn. 
On the stamp they have added a small table and the bal- 
cony railing which were not in the painting, though the 
railing belonged there; the New York Historical Society has 
a section of it on which Washington's hand may have 
rested momentarily when he bowed to the crowd. 

But as for getting the really doggy items of such a col- 
lection, the original sketches and drawings, both accepted 
and rejected and there are many rejects the die proofs 
and so on, this writer has no suggestions to make. If you 
can't acquire the originals, you might try getting photo- 
graphs of them, though to many, these are not entirely 
satisfying. The collections of Max G. Johl and Beverly S. 
King, both dispersed by auction in New York in recent 
years, were long the chief repositories of these rare orig- 
inals. There were many water-color drawings of stamp de- 
signs; in some cases the whole series, rejected and accepted, 
for a single stamp, then the proofs of the partly finished 
and the completed die. One learns from these collections 
that in 1908 Whitney Warren, later the architect of the 
rebuilt Louvain Library, made eight drawings all later in 
King's possession for a special-delivery stamp, before he 
succeeded in getting one accepted. But what of that? No 
less an artist than Louis Comfort Tiffany designed some 
envelope dies in the early '8o's, and some of his drawings 
were rejected, too. On one the letter "G" wasn't quite com- 


pleted, so that the word appeared as POSTAGE. Several thou- 
sand of the envelopes were made before the bad letter was 
discovered, but all of them were destroyed, it is said, save 
four of the one-cent and seven of each of the sizes in the 

By the same token, for the Panama-Pacific series of 1912- 
13, a two-center labeled "Gatun Locks" was engraved and 
twenty-five million stamps printed before it was discovered 
that the picture didn't represent the Gatun Locks at all; 
one of those magnificent little errors which nobody but a 
high government employee could commit and continue to 
hold his job. The stamps were all destroyed save three or 
four proofs, and the wash drawing of the locks, with the 
autographed OK of the Postmaster-General, bobbed up in 
King's collection some years later. 

Now as to those Gatun Locks proofs; there were only 
three known when it was discovered a few years ago that 
another was in the possession of a former engraver in the 
Bureau. A collector, prowling about a certain city, ringing 
doorbells and asking astonished burghers if they had any 
old letters for him to mull through, ran across his home. 
The man's wife called the collector back a day or two later 
by telephone, evidently with the thought of selling him 
that proof; but after an hour of painful wavering, the 
couple decided against it. Collectors are still keeping an 
eye on him, however, and if or when . . . 

From these collections we learn that up to 1900 the 
Government had no stamp designer of its own, but at that 
time "borrowed" for several years an artist, R. Ostrander 
Smith, from the American Bank Note Company. Smith's 
first work for the Bureau was the designing of the series 
boosting the Pan-American Exposition of 1901. One pho- 
tograph in the King collection showed Smith himself pos- 


ing on a bicycle for a special-delivery stamp design. King 
also had some two dozen pencil sketches and wash draw- 
ings for stamps, mostly for the frames surrounding the 
vignettes in the 1901 and 1902 series, all drawn by Smith 
and many of them signed by him. For that maligned series 
of 1902, poor Smith thought he was doing a clever and ap- 
propriate thing (and so he was!) in weaving into the frame 
around each head something pertinent to the man por- 
trayed; fasces for Webster, sailors for Farragut, a head of 
Justice for Marshall, two figures holding electric lights 
those "nude, writhing males" so excoriated by a Demo- 
cratic editor for Franklin. 

Speaking of tampering with original photographs or 
paintings, one of the sweetest bits of "improvement" that 
we know of is that pretty bunch of flowers added to the 
Whistler portrait of his mother on the Mother's Day 
stamps. By the way, our genial Postmaster-General, leading 
man in that famous philatelic skit, "Farley's Follies, or the 
Scandals of 1934," who knew nothing of philately or postal 
service when he took over his present job, has now become 
a collector, and has what are probably the two most valu- 
able sketches in existence rough pencil suggestions by 
President F. D. Roosevelt for the Byrd Antarctic stamp 
and the Mother's Day stamp in which the Whistler por- 
trait is said to be outlined with great aptitude for so hasty 
an essay by an amateur. 

We learned from King and Johl that the postmaster at 
Randolph Field, Texas, made the drawing which, with 
some slight changes, was used for the 1932 Olympic Games 
stamp; that a Morse Telegraph commemorative was de- 
signed in 1919, but never issued; that a Peace Centenary 
stamp, with America and Britain clasping hands thereon, 
was designed in 1914 and the master dies made; but the 


breaking out of the World War would, it was thought, 
have made the issuing of a peace stamp too grimly comic, 
so the project went no farther. Egged on by certain pub- 
licity-seeking editors, the Department did issue a Peace 
stamp in 1918, showing Columbia huddled among the 
flags of the World War allies, but did it lackadaisically, 
printing only a few, and telling postmasters to sell them 
only to customers who asked for them; and so that stamp 
is little known now. 

In JohFs collection, among other unique things, are the 
complete histories of the Alaska- Yukon-Pacific Exposition 
and Hudson-Fulton Celebration stamps of 1909; that is, 
the drawings, from the very first rough sketch there are 
five in the Alaska- Yukon-Pacific series, all for one stamp 
the die proofs and so on. The Alaska- Yukon-Pacific stamp 
was first designed with a seal posing on an ice floe, but 
Seattle folk were afraid other people would get the idea 
that this was the sort of climate they had in their town, and 
so the portrait of William H. Seward, the purchaser of 
Alaska, was substituted for that of the seal; and one sketch 
still shows the seal, but with Seward's name lettered under 
it. How interesting it would have been if they had let it go 
through that way! After all, Mr. Seward's chin did look 
rather like a seal's. 

In the two collections, among so many other intimate 
things that they cannot be listed here, were no less than a 
dozen accepted drawings with the autographed approval of 
the Postmaster-General. Of course these, as well as many 
of the other items we have mentioned, are supposed to re- 
main forever in the files of the Post Office Department. 
When you ask a philatelist how they happened to stray out 
of it, his eyes become expressionless, his face masklike, in- 
scrutable; he tells you he doesn't know. It is like asking a 


political question of a stranger in Germany or Russia or 
Italy. Truth of the matter is that they seem to have crept 
out in ways that might be described as irregular; as one of 
Harry Leon Wilson's cowboys once delicately described it, 
"crooked, but not rough." One has even heard legends of 
a certain postal official maybe it should be "officials"; we 
wouldn't know about that who, when a philatelic friend, 
calling at his office, wanted to look at a certain sketch or 
other item, would send for it, and after a time, at a mo- 
mentary lull in the conversation, would swing his chair 
around to the window and murmur, "What a beautiful 
spring day! And can that be a robin in that tree yonder? 
First I've seen this year," and when he finally tore his at- 
tention away from the glorious out-of-doors and turned 
back to his desk, the sketch would have disappeared and 
everybody would have forgotten all about it. 

Far be it from us to cavil at such practices. Those 
sketches and proofs are no longer of any real value to the 
government, and at least one outsider would rather see 
these interesting mementoes in private collections, where 
they may give pleasure and instruction to the owners and 
to other collectors, than hidden away forever from human 
eye or ken in the dusty archives of a government bureau, 
where you might not be permitted to see them, even if you 
had heard of them. 

But after all, there are rules, and now and then the 
wrath of Uncle Sam is vented upon someone who violates 
them too flagrantly. Once a considerable batch of sketches 
and proofs were found to be missing. They were traced 
through one functionary and another, each of whom had a 
receipt from the succeeding one all this was years before 
until they reached a person whom we shall call Egbert, just 
for a change. Well, Egbert couldn't account for them, and 


the suspicion was that he had sold them. He insisted that 
it was only his memory that was at fault; he just couldn't, 
for the life of him, remember what he had done with that 
stuff. He cudgeled his brain over the problem, until one 
night in bed, it came to him in a flash. Why, of course! 
He remembered perfectly now; they had gone into the 
corner stone of that new post office in Washington you 
know the one whose facade inscriptions, written by Presi- 
dent Eliot of Harvard, were corrected by President Wilson 
of Princeton and U. S. Of course it was impracticable to 
tear down the post office to check up on Egbert's story, and 
officials didn't think it worth while, as they didn't believe 
it, anyhow. 

A more serious affair, and with a curious sequel, came up 
in 1910. In the previous year the government experimented 
with a stamp paper containing more rag than usual, in an 
effort to avoid the shrinkage and consequent bad centering 
of perforation which had long been a nuisance. The ex- 
perimental paper had a slight gray-bluish cast, but was 
found to be unsatisfactory and was quickly abandoned. 
Nearly a million and a half each of the one- and two- 
cent stamps were printed on it and distributed, so these 
are not so rare. Of the three-, four-, five-, eight-, ten-, thir- 
teen-, and fifteen-centers, Department records show print- 
ing of only four thousand, and of the six-cent, fifty-two 
hundred none of them intended for circulation, but 
through error, many were sent out to post offices, and 
others escaped in one way and another; some through the 
machination of a Department official named Travers. Of 
the threes and tens, the copies in circulation were found 
by collectors in New York; the sixes appeared in Chicago, 
the fifteens in Buffalo, where many were saved, a few of 
the fives were found around Rockford, Illinois, and ten 


sheets of the thirteen-cent were sent to the post office at 
Saginaw, Michigan, it would seem, nearly three years after 
their issuance, where most of them were sold before their 
presence was discovered. The four-cent and eight-cent al- 
most disappeared from human knowledge. Today, the one- 
cent and two-cent are comparatively cheap; you can buy 
an unused copy of the three and some other higher values 
for forty dollars, but if you want one of the four-cent or 
eight-cent unused, it will cost you $750; and a mint block 
of four of either of those denominations will set you back 
by $3,750. 

In March, 1910, a scandal broke in Washington when 
Travers, the Post Office Department official already men- 
tioned, who had been under surveillance by inspectors 
for some time, was dismissed and indicted on a charge of 
slipping some of those bluish paper stamps out to a dealer 
in Philadelphia at high prices, to which the dealer added 
handsome profits. Blocks of four of the four-, eight- and 
thirteen-cent were known to have gone into a large private 
collection at from $140 to $200 per block. It was not 
claimed that Travers stole the stamps; he scrupulously re- 
placed them with stamps of the regular issue; but he vio- 
lated the law twice, in dealing personally in unused United 
States stamps, and in selling them at more than face value. 
The indictment against him covered only $30 worth of 
stamps at face value; but it was charged that he had sold 
them for $1,500. When his trial came on, he pleaded nolo 
contendere and agreed to pay a fifteen-hundred-dollar fine, 
the exact sum of his illicit gains, other penalties being 

And now for the aftermath; in 1937 a P s t Office De- 
partment official was displaying to a prominent philatelist 
some of the Department's collection of mint sheets, when 


at sight of one, the collector uttered an exclamation and 
looked more closely. His practiced eye had detected what 
the Department itself didn't know; that it had complete 
sets of sheets of those bluish-paper stamps, including the 
four-cent and eight-cent, which in sheet form were sup- 
posed to be gone with the wind. These sheets had recently 
been found between the pages of an old record book, 
lightly attached in a spot or two by their own gum. Col- 
lectors are now surmising that they may have been put 
there by the unfortunate Travers three decades and more 
ago. The sheets are estimated by the wise men of the busi- 
ness to be worth $250,000; and for some time past these 
enormously valuable rarities have been traveling about the 
country in that elegant truck with which Mr. Farley is 
spreading the gospel of philately. 

You can't fool the collectors with your stamp designs. 
Some group or other of enthusiasts will study every one, 
seeking its origin, questioning its integrity, until at last, if 
there has been any fakery or any error, somebody will be 
sure to point it out. Collectors discovered from our Co- 
lumbian one-cent stamp of 1893 ^ at Columbus, when he 
sighted land, had a nice, clean shave, but that when he 
stepped on shore a few hours later (see the two-cent) he 
had miraculously grown a full beard. When Newfoundland 
issued a new series in 1897, ^e ten-cent bore an alleged 
picture of the Matthew, the ship in which John Cabot dis- 
covered that island. A wag in Filatelic Facts and Fallacies 
immediately uncovered a very interesting historical inci- 
dent. As he told it, when Columbus got back home, he 
found that his flagship, the Santa Maria, had developed 
squeaks and rattles and looked quaint by comparison with 
the new season's models, so he sold her to a second-hand 
dealer. The latter took her to England to have her over- 


hauled, and there sold her to Cabot, who was looking 
around for a good second-hand vessel, not too expensive, 
in which to discover Newfoundland. On reaching New- 
foundland, he found the climate so cold and damp that he 
cruised down to New York for a change, "where a repre- 
sentative of the American Bank Note Company took a 
snapshot of the Matthew with the latest Kodak." In other 
words, the pictures of Columbus's flagship on our three- 
cent Columbian green and that of the "Matthew" on the 
one-cent Newfoundland 1897 are taken from one and the 
same original. 

Here one may learn how some of the mock pearls of 
history are created in the mussel shell of legend or even of 
jest. That yarn has, through forty years of occasional repe- 
tition, taken on, to some minds, the aspect of established 
truth. A New York collector solemnly repeated it to us one 
day minus the kodak as historical fact. 

On one of the Philippines stamps there appears a picture 
labeled Pagsanjan Falls; but Collector R. S. Lienau had 
only to take a second look at it before he began comparing 
it with another picture, and found that the engraving had 
really been made from a photograph of Vernal Falls in the 
Yosemite Valley. Was this just an error or what is more 
likely just a substitution because no good photograph of 
the Philippine waterfall was immediately available? 

And while we're on the subject of scenery, it may be 
mentioned that Nicaragua's calamitous blunder in putting 
a picture of its volcano, Momotombo, on some of its 
stamps, really clinched our decision to build the ship canal 
through Panama instead of Nicaragua. Many Congressmen 
didn't know that there were volcanoes in Central America 
until the pro-Panama crowd showed them those stamps. 


A THE very beginning of 
11 IT u 
stamp collecting, when a 
popular way or account- 
ing for the madness was the theory that two chaps were 
doing it on a wager, to see who could get the most in a 
given time, another legend arose which endured for dec- 
ades and aroused much wonder in all quarters, until finally 
it developed into a reality. This was a yarn that if you 
would help somebody to collect an enormous number of 
used stamps a million was the favorite number they 
would get some child or aged person, usually unnamed, 
into an asylum, or perform some other charitable act. The 
favorite story was that it would take care of an orphan 
somehow get him into an institution or give him an edu- 
cation. Another report was that famine sufferers in India 
would be aided. The collecting began in England before 
1850 (another report says that Spain was similarly af- 
fected), when used stamps weren't worth even a penny a 
dozen; and what marketable or persuasive value a million 
of them could have, no one could figure out. 

In 1873 someone pointed out through the English mis- 
cellany, Notes and Queries, that stamps were still being 
collected to make up the million to get that little boy 
who by that time must be of full age and wearing whiskers 


into an orphan school. But by that time the story had 
begun to vary; sometimes the charitable folk were trying 
to put an elderly woman into an old-people's home, or 
have an operation performed or something. Some theorists 
nowadays believe that the early promoters were washing 
off the postmarks and selling the stamps again as new. But 
by 1873 the older and rarer stamps were becoming suffi- 
ciently valuable to make the stunt more plausible; for in a 
million stamps which kindly, unsophisticated folk might 
peel off envelopes new and old, there would inevitably be 
a few which were worth more than the average; some of 
them far more. 

New variations appeared. In 1875 the world heard that 
a banker in Paris had told a certain threadbare youth to 
pour out a million stamps in his presence, and he would 
get a college education. About the same time a rumor arose 
in the United States that if you would collect a million 
stamps, you could "get something" from the government 
for them. Harold D. Watson, veteran New York collector, 
recalls that in his schoolboy days, around 1880, the reported 
price was a thousand dollars. Old John W. Scott has been 
accused of starting this gossip. Mr. Watson knew a young 
lady, an assistant in the public library in Brooklyn, who 
had collected her million, or very nearly, found the thing a 
fake, and gave her whole lot to him, greatly enriching him. 
The family of another boy who went to school with him 
had fallen victims to the delusion, and now the boy was 
bringing a pound or so of the stamps to school occasionally 
in a paper bag and selling them for a dime. Young Harold 
acquired some of them and found them pretty good buys; 
he is of opinion that the "unpicked mixtures" of that 
period were far superior to those of today. 


In 1877, when some Briton arose, as they are always 
doing, demanding to know the use of collecting those mil- 
lions of old stamps, a young lady signing herself "L. M." 
explained in a letter to a magazine that during the past 
summer she and others had collected enough stamps to 
"get two poor girls into a blind asylum." What was done 
with the stamps? Why, they were tied in packets of a 
hundred, she explained, and were thus sold by thousands 
"to decorate the whitewashed walls of houses in Japan." 
Just why the Japanese should forget their age-long artistry 
to cover their house walls with defaced postage stamps, and 
how long any piece of paper could be made to stick to a 
whitewashed wall, are questions which we wish we could 
have asked the young lady. "Last June we tied up 27,000 
little packets," she said, each containing a hundred; and she 
asked that the stamps continue to be sent to the Girls' 
Orphanage (Miss M., 4 Allsop Mews, Dorset Square, 
N. W.). 

But rooms (not whitewashed) in the Occident were 
actually being papered with stamps. In 1884 it was reported 
that a Benedictine monk in France had covered the walls 
of a room in his monastery in highly artistic fashion with 
800,000 stamps, creating flowers and vain designs which, 
in our lay ignorance, we would have thought unsuitable 
to the rigid severity of a monastery. This is all the more 
surprising because certain organizations of his church had 
long since begun the collection of stamps for charitable 
and missionary purposes. The Pall Mall Gazette of Lon- 
don, said in November, 1868: 

Thanks to a public appeal by Pastor Maurach in 
Livonia, we have at last learned what becomes of the 
old postage stamps, and to what end the thousands of 


aged and youthful collectors are in the habit of pla- 
guing our lives out. 

It appears that the Chinese have contracted the 
habit of covering their umbrellas and rooms of houses 
with old European stamps, and they buy them by the 
thousands and millions. The Rhenish Mission, which 
has a station in China, collects these stamps and sells 
them at three shillings the thousand. 

We wonder if any Occidental traveler of the '6o's or 
'yo's ever noticed and set down on paper a memorandum 
of the fondness of the Mongolian races for this bizarre 
type of interior decoration? We have been unable to find it. 

The collection for beneficent purposes grew in scope. In 
the i88o's the Christian Brothers came into possession of 
a piece of land in France, but had no money with which 
to build on it. With the aid of Catholics the world over, 
they gathered thirty-five million stamps and erected a 
school. It was a mystery to philatelists how so much money 
could be realized from what they considered junk stamps, 
but the explanation undoubtedly lay in the occasional rari- 
ties which came with the rest; and as the older stamps 
steadily grew in value, the ransacked attics and trunks 
yielded many stamps that were worth real money. 

Some Protestant clergymen in this country, not to be 
outdone, launched wholesale stamp gatherings for chari- 
table purposes about the same time, especially in the South, 
much to the disgust of stamp dealers and editors, who 
roundly denounced the Rev. Joab Gushing and one or two 
others as fakers, seeking personal profit. It was said that 
they picked up some nice Confederates and other rarities, 
and were keenly aware of their value. 

This sort of miscellaneous gathering had now begun to 


take on the aspect of a wholesale stamp business. J. E. 
Handshaw, an old-time New York dealer who died a few 
years ago, and who wrote his autobiography under the title 
of Looking Backward; or Fragments from a Checkered 
Career (though a more humdrum life can scarcely be im- 
agined, and the book deals almost as much with the Smith- 
town Branch Methodist Church on Long Island as with 
philately) tells of seeing a barrel of stamps around 1880, 
and a year or two later he himself bought a large box con- 
taining, he thought, about half a million stamps, from a 
woman for twenty-five dollars. Probably she, too, had been 
a victim of that collect-a-million-and-get-a-thousand-dollars- 
from-the-government delusion. Several years later, Hand- 
shaw bought twenty-five barrels of stamps at one time! 

In January, 1887, Hugo Kuenstler, a young philatelist 
working in his father's wholesale-tobacco business office in 
New York, came upon a huge gunny sack full of stamps in 
a junk shop and bought it for seven dollars. Thousands of 
the stamps were done up in neat packages of one hundred, 
bearing the names of persons who had gathered them, no 
doubt for some allegedly charitable purpose, though why 
it had gone awry, the "junkie" of course didn't know. 
Kuenstler found hundreds of stamps with a catalogue value 
(1887 value, remember) of a dollar or more, while the ones 
valued at less were as the sands of the sea. A reporter from 
the Collector's Ledger who visited him two years later, 
when he had sold or put into his albums many of the better 
stamps, found that he still had fifty thousand of the three- 
cent 1861 and '68 mixed; about twenty thousand of the 
two-cent brown of 1872; many boxes of the 1870 one-cent, 
two-cents and three-cents grilled and the six-cent carmine; 
several large envelopes full of the seven-, twelve- and 
twenty-four-cent 1872. There were sixty-five pounds of the 


three-cent 1870-72; about two hundred thousand revenues, 
mostly second and third issues, and at least fifty thousand 
of the 1869 issue. Such were the pickings of fifty years ago. 

In 1892 some of the young women in Upper Iowa Uni- 
versity learned of the plight of an old lady who had been 
"deserted by friends and relatives/' The girls, who had 
heard of the stamp stunt, but didn't yet know where they 
could sell the stamps, enlisted the aid of several Iowa news- 
papers. The Cedar Rapids Gazette found that the home 
for aged women at that place would undertake the care of 
the lady for the rest of her days for three hundred dollars. 
Girls and editors got busy, and within a few weeks 
the Keokuk Constitution-Democrat had gathered 34,000 
stamps; the Earleville Phoenix, 40,000; the Des Moines 
News, 60,000; Walker News, 111,000; Cedar Rapids Ga- 
zette, 560,000; while the college girls themselves had ac- 
cumulated 310,000 more, making a grand total of 1,115,- 
ooo. Bids were asked for, and Martin Steffan of Memphis, 
Mo., tendered the necessary three hundred dollars. By the 
time the two big sugar barrels full of stamps were turned 
over to him, 135,000 more had come in, bringing his haul 
to 1,250,000. Whether he succeeded in getting his money 
out of the deal is not recorded. 

Mr. Steffan charitably paid more than the market price 
for mixtures. New York dealers around 1900 were pay- 
ing $58 per million for such mixtures, tying them in 
packets and selling them for twenty-five cents per thou- 
sand. Most of them came on a torn-out or cut-out corner 
of the envelope, and these, mixed with others completely 
detached from the cover, were estimated to weigh about 
four thousand to the pound. The only dealers now who 
handle such mixtures are specialists in that line, and they 
are few in number. 


One of the most curious bids for mixtures that we have 
heard of was that of a cloth house in Vienna, which in 
1891 offered "parcels of cloth for gentlemen's trousers in 
exchange for old postage stamps." How the stamps were to 
be conditioned, graded if at all and priced, we cannot 
now learn. 

Elliott Perry, the genial sage of Westfield, N. J., tells of 
a woman who decided forty years ago to collect a million 
stamps in her own behalf; that is, get herself into an old 
folks' home, though she wasn't more than middle-aged. It 
was back in 1905 when Elliott, then a mere youth, was 
living in Massachusetts, that he heard of the woman's 
project and called upon her. The truth was that the good 
soul was in an unpleasant spot. Her economic prop and 
meal ticket was in a state prison for a considerable stretch; 
he had been town treasurer, and got his books all out of 
balance somehow. So his lorn wife was at home, only a 
few miles from the grim prison walls, in company with a 
daughter and an over-fat dog who ate too many peanuts 
for his own good. The lady heard of the collect-a-million 
trick, and actually believed that she could thereby place 
herself in a home where she would never even have to think 
about anything again. She had gathered hundreds of thou- 
sands of stamps before she discovered that the idea was a 
myth, but by that time she had gotten the habit, so she 
kept right on, and had over a million when Perry saw her 
stock, tied in packets of one hundred, with thread, and 
filling a big, antique chest of drawers which was worth far 
more than the stamps. 

Perry went through several thousands of the stamps, but 
found little save ones and twos of recent vintage not even 
any good Columbians. He did see an 1869 one-center 
which was the worst off center he ever laid eyes on off in 

:. V 





Wide World Photos 

it Post office 
Jbano, Papal 
s, 1850. 

w A rush of 

ictors at the 

ern post of- 

at Vatican 


two directions, not more than half the design being on the 
stamp, and it was canceled with a curious cabled-anchor 
killer which he has never seen elsewhere. He wished later 
that he had made a special offer for that stamp, and won- 
ders whether it is in existence now. 

How did she obtain so many stamps? Principally from a 
bluing factory near by which sold the stuff by mail in sheets 
that could be carried in an envelope. Boys and girls all over 
New England were selling the bluing for them. The woman 
had a line into the concern's office; as Perry remembers it, 
the daughter worked there and got all the stamps off the 
incoming mail. Whatever became of her collection, de- 
ponent doesn't know, but no doubt it was eventually 
closed out to somebody for a few paltry dollars. 

The Morning Post of London said on Nov. 3, 1898: 

M. le Chanoine de Roy, the head of the Seminary 
at Liege, has acquainted me with some of the mar- 
vellous results obtained by the collection of old post- 
age stamps. Since the movement was started seven 
years ago, three hundred million stamps have been col- 
lected, which realized fifty thousand francs. With a 
portion of this the missionaries established and thor- 
oughly organized five Christian villages on the Congo. 

The collection was to be continued, he went on, until 
they had enough to build a cathedral at Leopoldville in the 
Congo Free State. Thus "collect-a-million" had by shrewd 
planning been changed from fake or jest to reality, and was 
assuming gigantic proportions. Thus did "mission mix- 
tures" come into being; but only in very recent years have 
they been made a business by the church. Parishioners cut 
or peel stamps by the billion from every envelope in sight 


and turn them over to the pastors. The Mission Stamp 
Bureau of Weston College, a Jesuit institution in Massa- 
chusetts, offers by circular a "Mission Mixture (on paper)," 
describing it as "99% U. S. stamps, of all denominations, 
including commemoratives (old and new), pre-cancels, air- 
mails, postage-dues, etc. In singles, pairs, blocks, coils. 
Minimum of paper. Absolutely unpicked." The prices vary 
from thirty cents a pound if you buy ten pounds to twenty- 
seven cents if you take two hundred pounds. 

Other Catholic colleges also deal in mixtures, but the 
most remarkable of these businesses is that carried on at the 
Capuchin College at Brookland, just outside Washington. 
A young theological student, a philatelist himself, founded 
it without capital in 1933, to aid in financing missionary 
work in Puerto Rico. He wrote to many Catholic laymen's 
organizations, to government officials, churchmen and 
priests, former students of the college, all over the world, 
asking for stamps. By the time he had taken orders for the 
priesthood, the business had grown to such size that he was 
put in charge of it, and a year or so ago he had twenty- 
eight young men, all students, working under him, soaking 
the stamps off the paper, sorting and grading them. This 
differs from other mission marts in that first grade copies 
are sold by the piece or the hundred, while seconds and 
worse are mixed together, United States with foreign, and 
sold by the pound. The mart has one of the largest stocks 
of used twentieth-century United States in existence, not 
to mention much foreign material and many mint copies. 

Big banks and business concerns have so often been 
solicited for stamps taken from their correspondence that 
many of them now make a business of selling them. Some 
even grade them according to high and low values; but 
most large organizations prefer to make a contract by the 


year with some wholesaler on a pound basis, the corners 
of the envelopes being cut out by a boy or girl who does 
little or nothing else. The money received is by some con- 
cerns put into the charity fund from which they are so 
often called upon to ladle out donations. 

Among the non-religious mixture dealers is one in the 
west which is said to receive stamps sometimes by the car- 
load. It sells not only mission mixtures but government 
mixtures, bank mixtures and special mixtures. Its advertis- 
ing chortles jovially of "Our Grand Combination; a selec- 
tion of all our best mixtures which will provide you with 
loads of fun for a long time. $48.50 plus postage on 18 
pounds." As no one need ever expect to find a rarity in a 
pound mixture, the fun of sorting one may be said to be 
comparable to that enjoyed by the old-fashioned child 
whose mother, to keep it occupied, smeared its finger tips 
lightly with molasses and then gave it a small feather to 
play with. 


begins at the harbor and 
, , . 
rambles in good old casual 

Dutch fashion up to and across Wall Street; but after you 
pass Wall, you suddenly discover that you are no longer on 
Broad, but on Nassau Street. So then, here is the south 
end of Nassau, on Wall alongside the United States Sub- 
Treasury, where once stood Federal Hall, on whose bal- 
cony Washington became our first President a scene pic- 
tured not so long ago on one of the most beautiful of our 
commemorative stamps. 

But nobody save a postman can tell you with authority 
where the other end of Nassau Street is. It finally fades out 
alongside City Hall Park, where it and Park Row glide into 
each other at such a sharp angle, with such a glomeration 
of other little streets and such a typically New Yorkish 
jumble of house numbering that strangers seeking a par- 
ticular location are often driven to headache tablets or 
strong drink. Here in a little triangular island stands Ben- 
jamin Franklin in bronze, looking across at City Hall, with 
hands spread out as if in amazement at the goings-on there. 
On the scrap of sidewalk in front of him each week day 
noontide a preacher earnestly exhorts a handful who gather 
and listen idly, while Franklin, ignoring them, looks over 



their heads. In a half hour or so another preacher replaces 
the first; and later another comes on. Speakers haven't the 
endurance now that they had seven decades ago, when 
Disraeli at sixty-eight spoke for three hours and a quarter 
on one occasion and held his audience all the way. 

On the other side of the statue, behind Ben's back, a 
huddle of labor unionists, having gobbled their lunches, 
argue through the rest of the noon hour, sometimes falling 
into two or three squabbling groups, while passers-by stop 
to listen, not that they are necessarily interested, but just 
because it offers an opportunity to kill time. Just across 
Nassau on the corner of Spruce Street somewhere about 
there once stood Brom Martling's tavern, the first meeting 
place of the Tammany Society in 1798 there stands 
through the noon hour a slender, gentle man in spectacles, 
with a package on the sidewalk beside him, and holding up 
a small, red cloth-bound book so that you may see its name, 
"New Testament," while he says over and over, "No charge. 
Free of charge." He does not succeed in giving away as 
many as he could have done forty years ago. 

Old Ben took his stand there in 1872 because that little 
plexus was then known as Printing House Square and in 
later years, Newspaper Row. There still stands the old red- 
brick Tribune building with its Victorian clock tower, the 
gilded dome of the World whose morgue of clippings, the 
nation's greatest, is still mourned by historians but the 
Sun building between them is gone; the heroic bronze Ger- 
man medieval figure in doublet and cloak, with trumpet 
at lips, vanished not so long ago from the top of the New 
York Herald building, the smell of printer's ink has faded 
from the others and only ghosts of the great days of News- 
paper Row remain to haunt rooms now buzzing with other 
enterprises. But one fancies that old Ben, our colonial post- 


master-general, is still content there, because the atmos- 
phere all about him and for five blocks to southward on 
Nassau Street is reeking and murmurous with stamps, and 
in vaults near by are still preserved letters which he himself 
wrote, as well as others from his friends and fellow laborers 
in the building of the nation. 

Business in New York is queerly regional. Most of the 
old book shops, for example, are on Fourth Avenue and 
East Fifty-ninth Street. When ladies wish to buy brass 
andirons, candlesticks, trays and other such junk, they hie 
them down to Allen Street, on the lower East Side, where 
the L trains thunder so loudly overhead that customer and 
dealer must scream in each other's ears or wait until the 
train has passed. Just why all the waste-paper warehouses 
should be on Lafayette and South Streets is beyond our 
poor power to reason out. The stamp business is not quite 
so intensely concentrated, for there are large concerns scat- 
tered here and there is midtown office buildings. But Forty- 
second Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues shows 
a few display frames of stamps at almost every building 
entrance; and Nassau Street has, for nearly three-quarters 
of a century, been New York's great center for philatelic 
merchandising. There, until recently (when the store 
moved away) you might have seen stamps priced at fifty 
and one-hundred dollars under the glass top of a counter 
in a five-and-ten-cent store a sight probably unique in the 

There was a time, forty or fifty years back, when East 
Twenty-third Street became lightly flecked with stamp 
shops, John W. Scott's among them. One old lady who 
died not so long ago, and who was an ardent collector in 
those days, lived in Brooklyn, and when she came over to 
Manhattan, before there were so many bridges and sub- 


ways, crossed by the Twenty-third-Street ferry. She hadn't 
as much money to spend on her hobby as she would have 
liked, and to pass those windows and wall frames some- 
times proved too much for her spirit and power of resist- 
ance; so she was compelled to avoid temptation by de- 
touring through Twenty-second Street. Then the trend 
changed, and with the curiously gregarious tendency already 
mentioned, the stamp shops followed each other, one by 
one, back down town. 

Nassau was at first just a lane leading from the outer 
palisade of New Amsterdam at Mr. De Peyster's farm up 
to the Commons, now City Hall Park; and it has never 
grown much wider than that lane. For decades in the pres- 
ent century it was unique in that no wheeled traffic was 
permitted to move on it during the noon hour; and so 
from twelve to two P.M. throngs from the neighborhood 
strolled to and fro in mid-street and gutter as well as on 
the sidewalk, relaxing in the one place where there was 
no fear of the modern juggernaut. But the La Guardia ad- 
ministration, supposedly the champion of the poor and 
motorless, has changed all that, and Nassau is no longer a 
noon-hour haven of rest. 

As you walk north along its first few blocks, between 
massive skyscrapers reeking with finance and stocks and 
law, you dip down from Liberty Street into a little hollow 
crossing your course, where three centuries ago a tiny brook, 
dry in summer, flowed eastward to the East River; a hollow 
lush with oak and dogwood and sumach, down which 
meandered 't Maagde Paetje, "the Maiden's Path," whose 
course is traced by present-day Maiden Lane, the street of 
diamonds and gold and silver. Our street began to acquire 
a few houses late in the seventeenth century, and after the 
English took over the colony, was informally mentioned as 


"the street leading by the Pye-Woman's to the Commons." 
Just around the corner from it in Liberty Street lived 
young Captain William Kidd, later called a pirate. Known 
as Kip Street then, the name was changed, later in the 
century, to Nassau, in honor of "the Dutchman," King 
William III of England. 

From Maiden Lane northward to its end, Nassau Street 
is, like many other portions of New York, curiously old- 
fashioned, its atmosphere mellow with age and memories. 
There may be four or five buildings (none of them sky- 
scrapers) in that stretch erected since 1900, but no more. 
On the other hand there are some which could, if they 
had memories, recall the Civil War and, therefore, the 
beginning of the stamp business in America. Nay, there 
are some which go back a century or more. You have only 
to see their plain, flat, oft-painted brick fronts, with the 
simple, square-cut windows, to realize it. 

Take Number 88, for example, five stories high (though 
the top one is little more than a half story) and know that 
the oldest law firm in New York, De Witt, Lockman and 
De Witt, departed thence in October, 1938, after having 
occupied those ancient rooms, generation after generation, 
for one hundred and three years! When Cornelius De 
Witt first hung out his shingle there in 1835, the year of 
the Great Fire, Andrew Jackson was President and the 
telegraph still unheard of. As decades went by and the staff 
gradually increased, they gradually took over the whole 
building. That top story, only a little higher than a man's 
head, was crammed with ancient letters going back to the 
pre-stamp era, records and documents, of which thousands 
of course bore old revenue stamps. The numerous stamp 
dealers in the building across the way at Number 87 used 
to look over there with dreaming eyes and watering chops 

The Old Dutch Church, New York City's post office from 
1847 to 1 ^75- Nassau Street at the right. 

A* kl .m? \ 


From the Collection of Philip H. Ward, Jr. 

Onr firef Hi?rt cfnmr\c ' I 'ho TT *v p- nn/1 10 


and try to picture to themselves the riches that lay im- 
mured in that Aladdin's Palace, that Cave of Monte Cristo. 

And now comes the sinister part of the story, which 
Nassau Street when it can be induced to recall the affair 
at all mutters through clenched teeth. When the wealthy 
attorneys and their clerks, tired of running up and down 
stairs, decided to seek more elegant quarters, there were 
these tons of old letters and documents to be discarded. 
Would they sell the stamps to any collector or dealer? 
Could all the pleadings of Nassau Street persuade them 
to let anyone even so much as look at a few of the papers? 
Positively not! There are some vagaries in human conduct 
which one just cannot explain. Believe it or not, with the 
supply of old stamps visibly shrinking before our very eyes, 
they burned all that treasure! There are vague rumors that 
a few dozen stamps were salvaged through bribery of one 
of the incinerators, but these are only whispered behind 
the hand and cannot be confirmed. 

No doubt Cornelius De Witt, when he first began prac- 
ticing, used to step across the street for refreshment now 
and then to the old Shakespeare Tavern, on the southwest 
corner of Fulton, and perhaps get a whiff of literary talk 
from fellows like Irving and Paulding and Halleck, who 
liked to hobnob there. When the tavern was razed, the 
"squinting Scotchman," James Gordon Bennett, reared his 
New York Herald building on its site; and on the night of 
November 6th, 1860, crowds in the streets saw the returns 
telling of the election of Lincoln, thrown by stereopticon 
on the side of the building for the first time in history. 
Nassau was a street of printing and publishing and engrav- 
ing then. In 1860 the Sun was just across the street from 
the Herald, the Express was at the corner of Wall, the 
Transcript, Leader, Observer and Times were all at other 


numbers on Nassau, the Illustrated News just around the 
corner on Fulton. There were job printers everywhere, a 
type foundry on the corner of Ann Street a century ago, 
and in the same building the office of the New York Mirror, 
where in 1844-5 Edgar Allan Poe worked and wrote 'The 
Raven," reading snatches of it to his chums in Barney 
Welsh's rum-and-beanery, just across Ann Street. And one 
recalls that F. K. Kimmel, at 59 Nassau, engraved on steel 
some fine, colored Civil War patriotic envelopes which are 
the pride of present-day collections. 

On the site of the Tavern and of the Herald's early home 
stands one of the more modern buildings of upper Nassau 
though it's fifty if it's a day old the Number 87 already 
mentioned, a nine-story structure packed from top to bot- 
tom with just two sorts of businesses jewelry and stamps. 
It doesn't require very spacious quarters to house a pretty 
considerable business in either line. Here veteran operators 
with leather guards over their palms start and stop the 
hydraulic elevators by pulling a cable up or down we 
hadn't seen one of the sort in thirty years. The place is an 
ant hill of busyness. Through almost any opened door you 
may glimpse a man with a glass at his eye, who may be 
either probing the integrity of a diamond or diagnosing 
the debility of a watch or scrutinizing what looks like an 
infinitesimal speck of dust in the right-hand numeral of 
the President Taft brown four-center of 1930 which to his 
omniscient eye marks it as a newly discovered variety; and 
some collector will gladly buy it as such and exhibit it, and 
at stamp shows other collectors will peer at it with pro- 
found interest and envy. 

Up the street at Number 116 is another, a twelve-story 
building which never houses less than twenty stamp dealers 
and sometimes twenty-five. Though it is more than forty 


years old, it is quite modern in that it has electric elevators; 
for there are on Nassau not only hydraulic elevators, but 
elevators starting from the second story or, at least, several 
steps above the street, elevators which will hold only three 
or four people, and some buildings with no lifts at all, so 
that you must toil breathlessly up two or three flights of 
dusty stairs to reach certain one-room, often one-man busi- 
nesses, of each of whose existences a clientele seems to be 
aware. In some buildings you wander through narrow, tor- 
tuous halls, twisting this way and that until you lose all 
sense of direction and have to be shown the way out; and 
in at least every other room there are stamps (wholesale or 
retail), jewelry, gauds, engravers, encrusters you can guess 
what they are. At the doorway of such a building, you 
sometimes see a sign, "For Rent. One light Room. Suitable 
for Stamp Dealer." But a few old rookeries have lost their 
grip. Rows of dark, silent doors line their upper halls, and 
in the stillness the ancient floors creak eerily under your 
footfalls, until you are glad to escape down the stairs again 
to the cheery bustle of the street. 

It was natural that the stamp business should start down 
there in the financial district, where there was more money 
to spend on hobbies than elsewhere, and that Nassau 
should become the street of stamps; for near its lower end 
was then the city post office, and at its upper end lies City 
Hall Park, where the first stamp peddler stood in 1860, 
and where in 1875 a new post office was built; a magnificent 
thing of which the whole city was proud, but which in 
another three or four decades, when a new main office was 
built away uptown, became just the City Hall Branch, and 
in its latter years lost favor and was reviled as an architec- 
tural disgrace. It was finally razed in 1939 and its site 


thrown back into the park again, thus completing a curious 

What a post office its predecessor was! The Middle 
Dutch Church, built in 1728; lay in its grave-dotted yard, 
bordering Nassau from Cedar to Fulton, and was a house 
of worship for more than a century. During the Revolution 
it was at one time and another a riding school for British 
officers and a wretched prison for American patriots. Six 
decades later the congregation wanted to move uptown; 
the government bought the building and lot in 1845, re- 
modeled the church inside, built a one-story addition all 
around, extending to the streets, and there it was, surely 
the most grotesque post office in the world. The steeple 
still stood at the west end of it, but the bell cast in 
Amsterdam in 1730 and given to the church by Abraham 
de Peyster went with the congregation uptown and now, 
after two more moves, still rings its pleasant call on Sabbath 
mornings from the tower of the Church of St. Nicholas, at 
Fifth Avenue and Forty-eighth Street. Some of the bodies 
were removed from the churchyard when the government 
came in, and some were not. 

Here the New York postmaster provisional stamps were 
issued, and from the office windows were sold the first 
national stamps, the five- and ten-cent values of 1847. But 
by 1868 Postmaster-General Randall was describing it thus 
in his annual report: 

It is patched and battered, full of dark corners and 
discomforts. The sunlight can scarcely penetrate its 
gloomy interior. Gas is burnt there day and night, 
and men work by it. It is over an old graveyard, and 
under its rotting floors lie skulls and bones and the 
damp mold of dead men. On removing the floors for 


repairs a short time ago, these unwelcome sights were 
exposed to view. The building is unfit for any use 
whatever, and yet there ... by gaslight, from night 
until morning, and from morning until night, three 
hundred men are at work and inhale a poisoned atmos- 
phere with every breath they draw. ... An average 
of nearly thirty men are sick all the time from labor- 
ing in that unwholesome place. . . . 

A picture in an illustrated weekly of 1869 shows the 
postmen leaving the office for their rounds, and they are 
all running! Were they so zealous as all that, was the elan 
of the service so high, or were they just eager to get out 
of that gaseous charnel house? Speed was not difficult, for 
their loads were not irksome, their mail bags being about 
the size of a present-day lady's handbag, or perhaps a brief 

John Walter Scott had opened a shop at 34 Liberty 
Street, next door to the church-post office when Randall's 
report was written to be exact, in 1866 and within two 
years he also had a place around at 75-77 Nassau, which 
presently became his sole establishment; a stamp store on 
the first floor and a printing office in the basement where 
he turned out catalogues, albums, portraits of the world's 
rulers and such good reproductions in color of United 
States and foreign stamps for his American Journal of Phi- 
lately that some competitors and critics made derogatory 
insinuations. Another editor, giving his shop a nice puff 
in 1871, saw buyers "of every age, enthusiastically scanning 
the stock," "three persons constantly engaged in assorting 
and counting the stamps, and a cashier behind a wire- 
protected desk busy taking the fractional currency." 

In later years Scott did business in other streets than 


Nassau, but he was its philatelic pioneer. With him really 
began its history as a street of stamps. In 1887 he sold his 
business to Gus and Henry Caiman, who reorganized it as 
the Scott Stamp and Coin Company. But Mr. Scott 
couldn't stay out of stamps. He began again on his own 
in 1889. The Caimans brought suit to stop him, but a high 
court ruled that a man cannot sign away his right to earn a 
living at the only sort of work he knows. Scott sold out 
again to J. E. Handshaw in 1916, and served as librarian of 
the Collectors Club of New York until his death three 
years later. 

It is significant that in the '90*5 the New York Notes in 
the American Collector were being signed with the nom 
de plume, "Nassau"; while across the water, the Strand, 
where dealers congregated until Britons nicknamed it 
"Stampmonger Lane," was spoken of by Americans as the 
Nassau Street of London. From those days to these, de- 
spite the development of big philatelic concerns uptown, 
Nassau has remained the traditional Wall Street of phi- 
lately. Dealers overflow into its neighbor streets John, 
Fulton, Cortlandt, Park Row, even Broadway but it is 
still the backbone. 

But selling stamps in Nassau Street hasn't always been 
beer and skittles. Edward Stern, a veteran dealer in the 
street, remembers that when he, a youngster of twenty- 
three, chose a room in which to begin business in 1903, 
the landlord strove to dissuade him, because half a dozen 
others had failed in the stamp business in that same room. 
Probably it wasn't entirely compassion on the landlord's 
part; he had just got tired of having tenants fold up on 
him, leaving a lot of rent unpaid. But Stern persisted, won 
his lease and gladdened the owner's heart by keeping a 
few jumps ahead of the sheriff. 


One of the street's earliest figures, after Scott, and the 
one most fondly and humorously remembered, is that of 
William P. Brown, the City Hall Park pioneer, who was 
on Nassau or just around the corner from it, for more 
than half a century. Between his push-cart period and the 
era when he actually had a roof over his head, he is said 
to have been a "satcheleer," or itinerant stamp dealer go- 
ing about, picking up stamps from banks, business houses 
and other sources and selling them usually to dealers, 
though privately when convenient a type of middleman 
which still flourishes. Such merchants were and are not 
only urban but interurban. The journals reported in 1889 
that W. B. Hale of Williamsville, Mass., the traveling 
stamp dealer, was painfully injured by colliding with a 
team while pedaling his bicycle from Holyoke to Spring- 
field, but recovered. 

Brown was established on Nassau as a coin and stamp 
dealer before 1875, and is further known to collectors today 
by a "carrier" stamp in the manner of those local express 
or dispatch concerns which functioned very usefully in 
the larger cities before the Civil War and before the gov- 
ernment had introduced house-to-house delivery. Brown's 
service was announced on his one-cent stamp, issued in 
1876 as "Brown's City Post Stamp Office-Nassau St." 
and was garnished with a picture of a man pushing a 
wheelbarrow, presumably the actual manner in which he 
handled the mail at the start. You could leave a letter at 
his store and he would take it to the Post Office for a cent, 
or if you sent out many letters a day, he would pick them 
up and take them to the Post Office upon arrangement. 
This branch of his business probably did not last more 
than a year or two. 

The lore about Brown, a character right out of the pages 


of Dickens, would make a monograph all by itself. Like 
many another queer personality, his one hand was stingy 
and hard, his other open and charitable. In the last two or 
three decades of his life (he died in 1929), he is remem- 
bered as never wearing an overcoat, even on the coldest 
days, but coming down street with the collar of his seedy 
old black coat turned up around a shirt collar far from 
immaculate, his unkempt, yellow-and-white beard blown 
about by the wind and his old, worn shoes curling up at the 
toes. He never married, else his wife might have succeeded 
in keeping his hands and nails more presentable. He must 
have appeared a curious figure in Europe when he went 
over there on stamp-buying or selling trips, as he did occa- 

Some who bought from him recall that he had albums 
in which his stock was mounted on hinges, often in helter- 
skelter fashion; a stamp from Abyssinia might be rubbing 
elbows with ones on either side from Uruguay and New- 
foundland. He had a habit of pasting these album pages or 
approval sheets on his show window, one after another, and 
as the window was seldom washed, the remaining gum 
and bits of paper, together with accumulated dust, fin- 
ally robbed it even of translucency. Perhaps that was what 
ailed his battered spectacles, too, for he would look over 
them at the customer and under them at the stamps on the 
counter. One day a customer, still living, said to him, "Mr. 
Brown, what do you wear those glasses for? You never look 
through 'em." Whereupon the old gentleman calmly took 
them off, laid them on a shelf behind him, and continued 
the transaction without them. For a long time he had a 
habit of going fishing on Jamaica Bay on Thursdays, and 
serving a fish chowder, prepared on the premises, to cus- 
tomers and friends at his shop on Fridays. 


But this queer old man was a friend to the friendless 
perhaps because of vivid memories of the hardships of his 
own earlier days. He believed with the Salvation Army 
that a man may be down but never quite out. The Five 
Points Mission, in the slums of New York's lower East 
Side, was his favorite charity, and he is said to have left his 
entire estate to it when he died. 

By the i88o's dealers were coming in whose names are 
still bywords in the street and among the oldsters of phi- 
lately-Gremmel, Bogert, Albrecht, Hunter, the Tuttles 
and others. Henry Gremmel, born in Hanover, Germany, 
began collecting in 1870 at the age of eight, and kinsmen 
already in America supplied him with a practically com- 
plete collection of United States stamps. In his school, not 
only many pupils, but the teacher, too, collected stamps. 
Henry had about three thousand varieties when his album 
disappeared one day, and to the day of his death he be- 
lieved that his teacher had stolen it. He finally came to this 
country as a band musician, got into the stamp business, 
and by 1889 was one of the fixtures of Nassau Street. R. F. 
Albrecht was another German immigrant who became one 
of the street's great dealers and auctioneers. John N. Luff, 
American stamp historian, and Walter S. Scott started with 
him as clerks in the '90'$. F. W. Hunter, an attorney and 
collector on the side took on more than forty years ago a 
dark-eyed, scared-looking office boy named Johnny Klee- 
man, eventually launched a stamp business with John as 
partner, and Kleeman has been in the street ever since. 

Rudolphus R. Bogert has already been mentioned as a 
pioneer in organizing the American Philatelic Association. 
He was doing business as a dealer in Whitelaw Reid's new 
New York Tribune building, at the upper end of Nassau, 
as early as 1882. His store was a semi-basement room, 


slightly below the street level. Three years later he took on 
a sixteen-year-old boy named Arthur Tuttle, whose older 
brother, George R. Tuttle, was already in the business. 
Arthur is still selling stamps in Philadelphia; and a big 
safe which George acquired from Bogert & Durbin for 
Bogert later took on a partner is still on the eighth floor of 
116 Nassau Street, where George Tuttle used it. Tuttle 
died years ago, and the safe is so huge that the building 
shudders at the thought of moving it either up or down, 
so they just throw it in gratis with any room on the eighth 
floor, provided some other stamp dealer isn't already using 
it. Several have used it since Turtle's day, and the fact 
that Bogert & Durbin's name is still painted across its brow 
doesn't bother anybody. 

In 1894 Bogert hired another office boy, a gangling, 
genial, sandy-haired lad named Percy Doane; and as 
Bogert's employee and successor, Doane has remained in 
that same building though now for many years on an 
upper floor from that day to this. His office is one of the 
sights of New York a standing refutation of the axiom 
that order is Heaven's first law. It is a large room, crowded 
with long tables at least, it is believed there are tables 
underneath and wall cases stacked high with the accumu- 
lation of years in what Lady Macbeth would call "most 
admired disorder." One might readily believe that every- 
thing had been shot into the room from a blunderbuss 
about 1876 and never touched nor dusted since. Behind a 
counter crossing the room in front of the door sits Mr. 
Doane a slender, gentle, humorous man with a scholar's 
thin face, nose glasses, high standing collar and long strands 
of hair brushed across his bald crest, beloved joker and 
raconteur to all the fraternity attending to present-day 
business with meticulous care; but for him those mounds 


of detritus behind him have acquired a sort of perpetuity, a 
tomblike sanctity from disturbance. 

On hot days you may find the door propped open with 
a Scott catalogue or a dusty package which was tied up 
about 1902. A dozen years ago, in a facetious publication of 
the Hot Stove League, a group of New York stampers, 
there was a page or two from a philatelic Pepys's Diary, 
among the incidents of which were, "To Mr. Doane's, 
where I did open the door and fall over a large package, 
which did cause me much pain and confusion and neces- 
sitated my return to my tavern." 

Friends who call upon Doane gaze upon those dusty 
mounds with longing eyes, for they are confident that thar's 
gold in them thar hills. Now and then some portion of a 
stack falls to the floor and he discovers stamps which he 
may have bought for a song ages ago, but which are worth 
real money now, and which he didn't know he had. On 
two or three occasions the building has threatened to raise 
his rent, whereupon he counters with a threat to move. 
When word of this impasse flashes up and down the street 
by grapevine telegraph, there is a miniature gold rush; a 
flock of dealers and collectors begin hanging around the 
Doane menage like ghouls, hoping to be among the first 
to get a crack at the treasure which lies buried there. Then 
landlord and tenant reach an amicable compromise, and 
the argonauts ooze away. 

The Burger brothers, August and Artur, are two of the 
noted exhibits of the street. They have been in business, 
as this is written, fifty-three years, and are now at their 
fourth location, but always on Nassau, and have never lost 
their German dialect. Ask them for reminiscences and they 
tell you solemnly, "We are going to write a book about 
ourselfs." Placid and courteous, they nevertheless have an 


air of neutrality when you look over their stock; if you 
decide not to buy, they are undisturbed. Not so long ago 
one collector met another who was looking for a certain 
rare stamp catalogued at five thousand dollars. He knew 
that the Burgers had a copy, and sent the other man to 
them; but when they came to look for it, they couldn't 
find it. They were unruffled by the circumstance, and prom- 
ised to search further. Several months later they still hadn't 
found it, but were still not excited by its absence. There 
are those who hint that maybe Gus and Artur just didn't 
want to sell that stamp! 

Another customer, a specialist in revenues, went into 
their shop one day where he had often been before and 
was shown a whole sheet of the Trenton Match Company 
stamps, issued in 1881, a thing which he hadn't expected 
to find floating about the market. He expressed his sur- 
prise. "How long have you had it?" he asked. 

"We haf had it," explained the brother who was dis- 
playing it, "since we went in business in 1886." 

When the collector recovered from his amazement, he 
remarked, "Strange that no one has bought it before now." 

"I belief you are the first person we ever showed it to," 
was the startling reply. 

The price asked seemed much too high to the collector. 
"I'd like to have it," he admitted, "but that's too much 
money for me at present." 

"We will keep it for you," was the offer. 

"No, don't do that," he protested. "Don't miss a sale on 
my account. I may not buy it at all." 

But some time later another collector said to him, "Say, 
I saw that sheet of Trenton Match stamps at Burger's 
yesterday. I wanted it, but they said you had an option 
on it." The other had to call up the Burgers and tell them 


emphatically that he was not in the market before they 
would release it. 

The latest honor that has been bestowed upon Nassau 
Street it was bound to come sooner or later is a some- 
what dubious one. A specimen of today's favorite form of 
literature, a murder-mystery novel with the highly sugges- 
tive title, Cancelled in Red, has its scene laid in the famous 
street. The body found in the early paragraphs is that of 
Max Adrian, stamp dealer, whose counterfeiting, black- 
mailing, cheating in trade and double-crossing have made 
him so hated in the philatelic world that it's a wonder 
somebody didn't do for the dastard long ago. The story 
follows the accepted modern formula in that one killing 
isn't enough; another victim one of those suspected of 
Adrian's murder, by the way is knocked off within twenty- 
four hours. Although the book published in 19391$ dedi- 
cated by the author to a prominent Nassau Street stamp 
dealer, the street is a bit doubtful as to the propriety, or 
rather, the advisability of putting such a character as Max 
Adrian on paper. People might get notions. ... A review 
of the book in a stamp journal naively begs the reader not 
to become cynical or prejudiced against dealers in general 
as a result of reading it, for after all, the reviewer points 
out, it is only fiction 1 


THERE were colorful charac- 
T_- V J ^ 1_ 

ters which moved through 
the Nassau Street atmos- 
phere of the past and which have become legendary; Gin- 
nity, the stamp finder of forty years ago, for example. In 
almost any group of old timers you may hear a new story 
of him. He was a scout, a prospector with a nose for stamps 
like a red setter's for quail. Banks, old law offices, old busi- 
ness archives, family attics his suavity, persistence and 
elegant "front" won his way into them all. A personable 
young man in his twenties, he dressed nattily, usually wore 
a plug hat and carried a cane, an ensemble that opened 
doors to him which would have been closed against a 
plainer man. He got into the Philadelphia custom house, 
an unprecedented feat, and left not a fine revenue or pos- 
tage stamp in its vaults. Time and again someone has said, 
"There's that old concern, Doodle & Whiffle; been in 
business a hundred years; ought to have a world of old 
stamps in their files"; and when effort was made to pry 
into those old papers, like as not it would be found that 
Ginnity had been there thirty or forty years before and 
cleaned out everything. 

Ginnity earned money rapidly, but spent it just as fast. 
He was a high-pressure rounder, if ever there was one. "A 



short life and a merry one" was his sardonic motto. Per- 
haps he was aware for years of his impending fate, for he 
died young some who knew him think at not more than 
thirty. He came into New York one Saturday evening with 
some Baltimore postmaster stamps, looked up Gus Caiman, 
then an official of the Scott concern, and sold them to him 
for eight-hundred dollars with the stipulation that he re- 
ceive spot cash; he wanted to spend it over the week end. 
It was long after banking hours, but Caiman scurried 
hither and thither and finally raised the sum. By Monday 
morning, Ginnity hadn't a dollar of it left. 

Perhaps it was his spending needs that made him reck- 
less; perhaps a sort of what-the-hell state of mind was born 
of the knowledge that he hadn't a long life before him. 
Anyhow, he began trying tricks which he must have known 
would be found out. A man from Baltimore went into 
Bogert & Durbin's office one day and said, "I've come to 
collect for those stamps your agent bought from me the 
other day." 

"But we have no agent," exclaimed Mr. Bogert in sur- 
prise. It was Ginnity, of course. 

Not only this, but he began counterfeiting. The story is 
told of his finding an attorney in Alexandria, Virginia, 
who had inherited files of letters going back into the 1840'$, 
the carrier and postmaster stamp days. Ginnity selected a 
number of them and said, "Now, may I take these over 
to my hotel to study to-night? I'll bring them back and 
quote you a price to-morrow." 

"Certainly," said the unsuspecting lawyer, and away went 
Ginnity. He had prepared a counterfeit of the stamp of 
Russell & Company, a local express concern which once 
operated in New York. Selecting certain letters on which 
that stamp would look most natural, he stuck the Russells 


on and canceled them with pen strokes in the old-fashioned 
way, thus greatly increasing the value of the letters. Next 
morning he made the attorney an offer for the letters and 
it was accepted. Now, said Ginnity, he would appreciate 
it if the man of law would write a little paper saying that 
he had sold these letters to Ginnity, that they were genuine 
and the stamps as is, or words to that effect. Of course the 
attorney was glad to oblige, and he dashed off the paper, 
wholly unaware that some more stamps, and forged stamps 
at that, had been added to the letters overnight. When the 
counterfeits were detected by expert eyes some time later, 
the whole story gradually came out. 

An old-time New York dealer was telling me this story 
when another veteran came in. 

"I was just telling Mr. Harlow that story about Ginnity 
and the Alexandria lawyer/' said the narrator. "Did he 
ever work off any of those Russells on you?" 

"No," replied the other with a wry grin, "but we bought 
some of those Turners that he made." 

Now, the Turner carrier stamp is so suspicious a charac- 
ter that the cataloguers refuse to mention it, displaying 
even greater intransigence than an old work on zoology of 
1759 which describes and pictures the dragon, but starts 
off by saying, "The Dragon, as described in the numerous 
Fables and Stories of several Writers, may be justly ques- 
tioned whether he exists." Forty years ago the Turner stamp 
was for a time received in good society; but as nothing 
could be discovered regarding its ancestry or the history of 
the company supposed to have issued it, there very justly 
arose a question whether it had ever existed; and the 
Scotch verdict, "Not proven," stands against it to this day. 

In the days of Bogert & Durbin's ground floor shop in 
the Tribune building, a bright-eyed young Japanese was a 

ROOM 918 

ml asii 

J ifii 



ftooa H MT 

The highest a 

Left-Post ofl 
near summit of 
Jungfrau, Swit5 
land, 11,342 f 
above sea level 

Swiss P. O. Depart 

uo rd Mu'-cond j I 
The Explorers* Club, 
Hew "^crk City. 


ove An envelope from the un- 
sea post ofEce off the Bahamas. 

3[ht The undersea post office, 
ich is much deeper in the water 
in the picture suggests. 


customer. One day he told the clerk, Percy Doane, that he 
was going to a fancy-dress affair as Uncle Sam, and wanted 
to cover his costume with stamps; used, of course; he 
couldn't afford so many new ones. Percy tried to imagine 
that little Oriental countenance with a bunch of white 
whiskers on the chin as resembling Uncle Sam, but gave it 
up. He supplied the stamps, however United States red 
twos for the stripes on the breeches, and ones, which had 
been blue ever since 1870, with perhaps a few blue fives, for 
the coat, on which the customer, with true Mongolian 
patience, worked out white star designs in pasting the 

Some time later the Japanese came in very happy. His 
costume had made a great hit at the ball, and he offered to 
let Bogert & Durbin exhibit it in their window if they 
liked. They did so, and it quickly attracted the attention 
of another strange bird, a hard-faced individual destined 
to become one of the most famous among the queer charac- 
ters of the Street. Let's call him Kroog; the Street will 
recall at once his real name. He had a small Tammany 
sinecure which didn't take too much of his time and very 
little thought. In a rich dese-dem-and-dose dialect he told 
the stamp men that he knew places where he could find 
some old stamps queer stamps stamps from away back 
and from foreign countries, maybe. He produced some 
nice old United States revenues as a sample. Were they 

They were, to the extent of twelve dollars, and Kroog 
promptly went out and invested the money in potent 
liquor. That was only one of his flaws as a stamp hound; 
any sale from five dollars up meant a souse. He became to 
a considerable extent a successor to Ginnity, with the dif- 
ference that he never went outside of New York in his 


searches, while Ginnity covered a wide extent of country. 

After several days he came back and flaunted before 
young Doane's glistening eyes five 1853 Hawaiians which 
he had found in a waste-paper warehouse. The dealer, he 
said, had bought some boxes of old personal letters, which 
were arranged according to years. These were from the 
1853 box. Oh, yes, there were boxes for 1851 and '52, too; 
but he hadn't looked into those. 

"Go right back there/' said Doane, his voice trembling, 
"and go through those '51 and '52 boxes. If there are any 
Hawaiians in them, you'll be surprised at what we pay you 
for them. They are known as Missionary stamps, and 
they're worth real money." 

Here is where he made a mistake in tactics. He should 
have had a pair of handcuffs ready, should have attached 
himself to Kroog and ordered him to lead on to the ware- 
house without a moment's delay. Instead, he paid Kroog 
twenty-five dollars for the stamps just delivered, and let 
him go. He hadn't yet learned the fellow's bedeviling weak- 

Well, it was the usual story. With that twenty-five dol- 
lars in pocket, Kroog was again stricken with a sense of 
obligation to remove the curse of liquor from America by 
decreasing the visible supply. When he was finally able to 
stand on his feet again and made his way to the paper ware- 
house, those other boxes of envelopes had been sent to a 
paper mill and chewed into pulp. 

Kroog soon learned that there were other dealers in 
Nassau Street, and began doing business with several of 
them. On two or three later occasions he brought batches 
of old stamps to a dealer, only part of a cache, he said, and 
he would go back immediately and get the rest; but he 
never did, because he hadn't paid for the first lot, and 


somehow, never got around to doing so. He went through 
the files of the New York Institution for the Blind, picked 
out a lot of their best stamps, and said he would have to 
submit these to a dealer before he would know what to 
pay for them; he would return next day, pay for them and 
get the rest. He sold the stamps in Nassau Street for a nice 
figure and never went back for the rest. Smaller sales and 
larger profits was his system. 

But he developed a technic of his own with the "junk- 
ies," or Italian old-paper warehousemen; he illustrated it 
one day to a stamp dealer who went with him to a ware- 
house to look at some revenue items. The paper man 
handed him three or four nice old revenue stamps as 

"Junk!" sneered Kroog, and before the dealer's horrified 
eyes he would gladly have given $10 apiece for the stamps 
Kroog tore them across petulantly and threw the frag- 
ments from him. "Haven't you got anything better than 

The magnificent gesture was worth the money; thereafter 
the junkie was as clay in Kroog's hands, and he bought 
the other stamps of the day's crop at ridiculous prices. But 
some of the junkies finally learned the trick and worked it 
themselves. Some dealers finally came to going directly to 
the warehouses, and at times would be summoned to come 
up and look at a batch of stamps. 

"Give you twenty dollars for the lot," he might say. 

"Bah!" and the stamps would be hurled into the baler, 
though minus Kroog's tearing-apart quirk. "I send 'em to 
da mill first." When or if the customer went away without 
raising the ante sufficiently, the stamps would be rescued 
from the baler and offered to somebody else. 

Kroog had a rival, old Mr. Newbold, and the two were 


bitter enemies. Every dealer dreaded having them meet 
in his office, for there were always loud words and seeming 
jeopardy to furniture. The elderly Mr. Newbold carried a 
heavy cane, which he was admittedly ready and eager to 
use on Kroog's person. Once Newbold sat at an auction 
sale with a roll of stamps in his outer coat pocket, and 
after the sale, found that they had disappeared. He was 
purple with rage; he knew the culprit at once. 

"That skunk Kroog was sitting right behind me!" he 
spluttered. Sure enough, when he was thoroughly cornered, 
it was found that Kroog had the stamps. They were re- 
turned to Newbold and the affair was settled though with 
difficulty without homicide. 

Newbold did much scouting outside of New York. He 
used to go through New Jersey and Pennsylvania, peddling 
furs to individual customers; but the mangy catskin neck- 
pieces which he worked off on small-town women were 
really of less importance than the old correspondence in 
attics which he pretended to ask about in a casual, oh-by- 
the-way manner. Once he halted a Negro trundling a 
wheelbarrow load of old paper to a bonfire, and found a 
sixpence Canada in it; and if you don't believe one old 
stamp could be worth the quarter he paid to the Negro, 
just look in the catalogue. At another place he found two 
old ladies whose family had come originally from Balti- 
more, and who admitted having some old family corre- 
spondence with kin in that city, running back oh, fifty 
years and more. Newbold pricked up his ears and wanted 
to see the letters at once. No, they said, we can't get at 
them now all packed away in trunks in the attic. Next 
time you come around . . . 

He took pains not to be too long in coming around 
again, but met with a stunning disappointment. No, they 


said, there were no stamps worth mentioning; in most 
cases only the letter, not the envelope, had been saved; 
and the letters back in the pre-envelope days, when they 
were just folded over and became their own envelopes, 
had no United States stamps on them just a few queer 
old labels of one sort and another; so they finally burned 
the whole mess; been wanting to get it out of the way for 
a long time, anyhow, and make room for other things 

With a pencil, Newbold was sketching as they talked, 
a slender rectangle on a piece of paper; he wrote inside it 
as good an imitation as he could achieve of the famous 
signature "James M. Buchanan," and under it, "5 Cents." 

"Were there any labels like this on the letters?" he 

They peered at it. "Oh, yes, several." 

"How many?" he persisted. 

They looked at each other. Oh, maybe twenty or twenty- 
five, they guessed. 

"I'd have given you a hundred dollars apiece for them," 
he said, solemnly. Of course he wouldn't have, though he 
could have made a nice profit at that; but his announce- 
ment had the stunning effect he desired. They were abso- 
lutely paralyzed for a moment; then they melted into tears 
and wept piteously, poor souls, at the thought of the for- 
tune they had thrown away; a horrible example of the 
sort of folk who, when they see a huddle of something 
old, can think of nothing but starting a bonfire. 

Hen Kilton was a Nassau Street character engaged in a 
byway of the stamp business which probably many present- 
day philatelists have never heard of. He had been in "Va- 
riety" in his youth and also traveled with a circus as "The 
Great Egyptian Juggler." He was likewise a dancer ex- 
traordinary, and even decades later was as light on his toes 


as thistledown. He was a stamp collector all the time; you 
may find his collections of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick 
and other countries entered in stamp exhibitions though 
under another name as far back as 1893. Once when he 
was traveling through Georgia with the circus, another per- 
former stole some of his stamps, including a couple of fine 
U. S. 1847*8. Hen had the man arrested, and the culprit 
engaged a local, small-town lawyer to defend him. 

The attorney quickly learned from his client that Kilton 
was a New England Yankee, and when Hen had testified, 
the limb of the law took over his cross-examination with 
the air of a hungry man sitting down before a big platter 
of corned beef and cabbage. One of his early questions 
was, "Mr. Kilton, where were you born?" 

"In Connecticut," replied Hen. 

"Connecticut," repeated the lawyer, glancing at the 
jury. Another question or two, and then 

"That's a nice watch and chain you have there. Where 
did you buy the watch?" 

"In London," replied Hen, wondering where all this was 

"And the chain?" 

"Got that in England, too." 

"Ah! American jewelry not good enough for you, I sup- 
pose?" with a can-you-imagine-it look at the jurymen. 

"Oh, I wouldn't put it that way," protested the witness. 

"Now you say one of the stamps stolen from you was 
a a twelve-cent stamp, I believe." 

"Yes, sir, twelve-cent, 1851." 

"By eigh teen-fifty-one you mean" 

"That it was issued in 1851." 

"I see. And now, whose picture did it have on it?" 



"And what color was that stamp?" 

"Black," replied Kilton, as any philatelist would, think- 
ing of the color of the ink. 

"Black," exclaimed the lawyer, with another triumphant 
glance at the jury. 

The drift of this questioning was a mystery to Hen until 
the attorney made his speech to the twelve good men and 
true. Then, after his preliminary warming-up, he declaimed 
with rapidly rising indignation, "Gentlemen, here is my 
poor client being persecuted by a Yankee, born in Con- 
necticut, the State where they make nutmegs out of wood 
and sell 'em, a man who, by his own confession, won't do 
business with American merchants but prefers to buy his 
fine gold watches and everything he uses in England; and 
this man comes here into this court and tries to make this 
honorable and intelligent jury believe that the picture of 
the immortal George Washington on a United States 
stamp is black; that George Washington, the Father of his 
Country, was a nigger! Gentlemen, I ask you a simple ques- 
tion; can any dependence whatsoever be put in the word 
of a man like that?" 

The jury acquitted the defendant without leaving their 

Kilton later forsook the sawdust and the footlights and 
went into the stamp redemption business. He found that 
the government would redeem stamped envelopes or post 
cards on which addresses or advertising matter had been 
printed in larger numbers than the buyer could use. For 
example, if a mail-order house had an ad of a particular 
article printed on the back of ten thousand post cards and 
then sent out only 9,800, they could turn the remaining 
two hundred back to the Post Office, which would redeem 
them at seventy-five cents per hundred. Or if a candidate 


had ten thousand self-addressed, stamped return envelopes 
printed for his campaign and sent out only 9,920, or a 
corporation had fifteen hundred of the same printed for 
the return of proxies for the annual election of directors, 
when it had only 1,472 stockholders, the Post Office would 
redeem the unused ones at the face value of the stamps 
only; it wouldn't pay for the envelopes. 

So of course there arose certain middlemen who made a 
business of gathering up these stamped envelopes and cards 
and either selling them back to the government or to other 
users. To turn them in to the Post Office, you had to have 
a "run" of, say, ten or more of the same envelopes; for the 
idea was that of helping out the large user who had over- 
bought his needs; not to be bothered with paying out a 
few pennies to anyone who might pick up an unused 
stamped envelope. And there must also be at least some 
pretense that the person who returned the envelopes was a 
representative of the person or company who had originally 
bought them. 

Kilton started in this business in Chicago, buying the 
envelopes and cards from the junkies who found them in 
the waste-basket emptyings of office buildings and big busi- 
ness concerns. His experience in make-up aided him in put- 
ting things over at the post office. He would appear in his 
ordinary garb and mien as an employee of, say, Lyon & 
Healy, with forty or fifty envelopes, get the money on 
them, go back home, don another shirt and tie, perhaps 
another hat, add a little mustache and appear at the win- 
dow again as an office man from Sears, Roebuck & Com- 
pany; redeem that package, vanish and come back with a 
few lines delicately sketched on his face, making him look 
much older, hair powdered at his temples and a pair of 
spectacles, this time bringing a lot of proxy envelopes un- 


used by his employers, the Illinois Steel Company. This 
couldn't go on forever undetected. "That guy needn't think 
he's fooling me," said the clerk who usually served him to 
another one day. "I've been onto him for months." 

Either they made trouble for him or he thought the 
pickings in New York would be better, for he finally came 
over to Nassau Street and built up a considerable business 
there. The post-office clerks were more complaisant and 
willing to play ball with him, so much so that he arranged 
to pay modest commissions to one or two of them. Because 
of their partnership, he could work in a few odd envelopes 
with his "run" of twenty or more and get away with it. He 
had space rented with a stamp concern in one of the larger 
buildings on Nassau Street, and his confreres recall seeing 
his post-office clerk pals actually dropping in now and then 
at their noon hour to ask, "Got a package for me today?" 

Kilton also had several junkies on his staff, who would 
bring to him all their waste-basket gleanings; so that his 
place became a clearing house for not only stamped en- 
velopes and post cards, but for fountain pens, pencils and 
other office supplies, even some Liberty Bonds, and a gold 
tooth. He never gagged at anything. Back of his long table 
or counter was a big rack of pigeonholes, marked "Prairie 
Oil & Gas," "U. S. Steel," and other names, for his most 
common proxy envelopes, into which he distributed them 
until he had enough for a package. He had frequent oppor- 
tunities to buy whole boxes of envelopes or post cards, 
which he got by paying a slightly better rate than the Post 
Office or just by going after them, which Uncle Sam 
wouldn't do. 

He began reselling many of these to other concerns or 
persons who weren't squeamish about using a second-hand 
envelope. (We had a letter from a stamp dealer not so 


long ago, mailed in a thirty-year-old stamped envelope, with 
someone else's corner-card scratched out on it.) Kilton 
labored hard to devise an opaque liquid with some chalk 
and sizing in it and of just the peculiar tint of post-card 
paper, with which he could paint over the ad on the back 
of a card and the address on the front, too, if there was 
one so that it could be written on and used again. But 
this was never as satisfactory as simply pasting a piece of 
paper over the advertising or address. Incidentally, we saw 
a card just the other day from a small stamp concern, not 
in New York, which was a throwback to the past; the old 
three-quarter-face view of Jefferson printed in black which 
marked it as about forty years old and pasted over its en- 
tire back was a piece of white paper, on which was typed 
a simple offer of a U. S. 1869, twenty-four-cent invert 
stamp for $870. Holding it up to the light, you saw that 
originally printed on the card was a reminder of "Hum- 
phrey's Homeopathic Simples (Aconite, Belladonna, Nux 
Vomica, etc.), Price $1.00 per Dozen. Humphreys' Homeo. 
Med. Co., New York, January ist, 1900." Fancy offering 
an $870 stamp on such a medium! 

Well, Hen built up such a demand for his second-hand 
envelopes and cards that he couldn't cover the addresses 
rapidly enough by hand to supply it. He had a friend who 
ran a Tammany free-lodging house for bums up on the 
Bowery, from which he was expected to produce from 
seventy-five to a hundred votes each election day. "I've got 
a mechanical genius up there," he told Kilton, "and I 
believe he can figure out a machine to do this for you." 

The inventor labored for months on the machine, using 
such materials as he could lay hands on at no cost, and 
when it was completed, those who saw it say that there 
was probably never anything else to compare with it in the 


history of mechanics. It was fully twenty feet long, cobbled 
together out of scrap metal and timber, old bicycle sprocket 
chains and wheels, salvaged gear wheels, scale springs, 
straps, twine and hairpins; but when you fed envelopes in- 
to it at one end, they came out at the other in a large 
majority of cases with a rectangle of paper pasted over the 
addresses on their fronts. The trouble was that this ma- 
chine glutted the market; prepared envelopes faster than 
Kilton could sell them. 

Hen was perhaps the most eccentric character ever seen 
on the street. He never ceased collecting. He had his coats 
specially made with a huge inside pocket on the right side, 
big enough to hold a stamp album of goodly size, and that 
side of his coat when he was on the street stuck out in 
front of him like a spritsail. Notoriously stingy, he would 
often work through the noon hour, lunching on an apple 
or a banana and a dry roll, taking bites out of each in turn 
as he walked to and fro, sorting and distributing his en- 
velopes. He would save parts of these comestibles and put 
them away in his table drawer, where the mice would nib- 
ble them and roll them about in the dust, but that made 
no difference to Hen. 

He had fearful paroxysms of temper when something 
went wrong, often kicking a door furiously and striking 
himself on the head with his fists. Once he was working 
and lunching on a pint bottle of milk while two men 
looked at a part of his cover collection and he had some 
good ones on the low counter. His milk bottle was on one 
end of the counter, and as he lifted it to take a drink, the 
bottom of it fell out and the milk gushed in all directions. 

With a howl of rage, he smashed the remainder of the 
bottle against the wall and scooped up his covers with 
hands and forearms to save them from the milk, but was 


in so insensate a fury that he spun around in that graceful 
dancer's pirouette of his and raised them above his head, 
to throw them out of a window. The two onlookers sprang 
to their feet and dashed to the door, hoping to reach the 
street and grab some of the covers before passers-by dis- 
covered what they were. But fortunately, the love of those 
precious envelopes prevailed over Hen's rage; he lowered 
his arms, still trembling, and the treasures were saved. 

And there was Sam Singer, the stamp repair man, who 
left a notable record in the stamp business world; the man 
who could build a new stamp out of fragments so skillfully 
that you couldn't see the joints. Sam was born in Przemysl 
remember what a time we had, trying to pronounce it 
during the World War when the Grand Duke Nicholas 
was driving toward it? It was in Galicia, a part of Austria- 
Hungary then; goodness knows where it is now. Sam rose 
to fame as a repair man in Paris in the '90*8, where he re- 
paired for some of the very best people and caused some 
of them considerable embarrassment in after years, too. It 
is recalled that a New York dealer came home from Europe 
about 1900 in high excitement and said to his clerks, "From 
now on, buy every damaged stamp you can get hold of, if 
it's a worth-while issue. There isn't any such thing as a 
damaged stamp any more. Those fellows in Paris one of 
'em in particular are doing simply marvelous things with 
old stamps." 

Sam, the "one in particular," was eventually lured to 
America, where he flourished for many years. There is 
many a rare old stamp today, seemingly as sound as when 
it came from the press, but which once had a tear in it, 
perhaps halfway across, and which Sam mended with such 
uncanny skill that the break cannot be detected save with 
a powerful magnifying glass. Such work as this seems per- 


fectiy legitimate to the present writer; but when Sam 
always upon order, of course built an apparently sound 
stamp out of the fragments of two or three others, there 
began to be an odor about the affair which was offensive to 
the nostrils of the more ethical philatelists; and when he 
took one with the corner torn off and manufactured a new 
corner, drawing in the lithographed or steel engraved de- 
sign in perfectly matched color and line, reproducing the 
perforations and piecing out the postmark, why, that was 
just a little too much! 

Great Britain tried printing stamps for herself and col- 
onies on a paper with a chalky surface which would come 
off very easily, so that if one tried to wash off the postmark, 
the stamp design would wash off, too. Once a rather shady 
dealer showed Sam a certain colonial stamp and remarked 
that if the date on that postmark were so-and-so, the stamp 
would be worth a lot more to him. 

"Let's see it," said Sam. He laid it on the table and bent 
over it, scrutinizing it, after his fashion, from a distance of 
three or four inches, which always worried dealers, for he 
had a hacking cough, and they didn't know . . . Anyhow, 
after a minute's study, he said, "I can fix it." 

And so he did; took three figures of the date off that 
fragile surface and substituted three others so nicely that 
the scars could be detected only by high magnification and 
a suspicious eye. 

Sam was a collector on his own, and after he had been 
in America several years he discovered that he had, through 
a carelessness that was little short of criminal, bought two 
or three of his own repaired stamps without noticing it 
until some time afterward. He therefore formed a habit, 
when he rebuilt a stamp, of inscribing faintly a very tiny 
"M" (for "Mended") in a circle in a lower corner of the 


back of the stamp, and thereafter, before buying a stamp, 
he was always seen to turn it over and look at its back 
through a glass. 

He did not always have to do this, for there were dealers 
of the better class who would stamp on the back of one 
of his jobs, "This stamp has been repaired"; though even 
then there were some who did not go ahead and explain 
that a part of the stamp had been re-created or that it had 
been built from the fragments of two or three others. 

There was another fellow who it was will never be 
known who was Sam's peer on at least one occasion. A 
stranger went into the shop of John F. Negreen, a dealer 
now dead, in the early part of the century, and offered a 
pair of the famous Pan-American inverts of 1901. It will be 
remembered that this was a two-color series, with a picture 
in the center in black and a surrounding frame of another 
color. Some sheets of the two-cent denomination went 
through the press wrong the second time, with the result 
that the vignette of a railroad train was upside down, mak- 
ing these stamps valuable rarities. Negreen was amazed and 
delighted at sight of the stamps. He examined them care- 
fully, as he thought, to make sure that they were not coun- 
terfeits. No, the engraving was absolutely legitimate. He 
questioned the stranger very straitly, and heard a plausible 
story as to how he acquired the stamps. It was evident that 
the man knew the value of his find, but after much hag- 
gling, Negreen bought the pair at the bargain price of $800. 
Some time afterward, when a buyer put the stamps under 
a high-powered glass, it was found that the vignettes had 
simply been cut from the centers of two normal stamps, 
turned around and remounted in the frames upside down, 
with a skill so marvelous that it must be seen to be be- 
lieved. Sam Singer admitted that he couldn't have done 


better himself. But there were those who began to suspect 
that Sam swaggered a little when he said it. Was he in 
truth the real artist? He never admitted it, and as he has 
long since passed away, the question will never be an- 

Is individuality disappearing? We have no such colorful 
characters in the philatelic demimonde now as these of yes- 
terday, and undoubtedly some folk are glad of it. There 
are still chaps getting their living precariously from stamps 
the curbstone or short-order lad, for example, whose office 
is under his hat, who knows where to buy cheap and sell 
high, and whose aim is the one-day turnover to sell before 
dinner all he may have bought since breakfast. As just one 
example of these fellows' clever ideas, they were selling the 
new thirty-cent Atlantic Air Mail stamps of 1939 along 
Nassau Street at a ten per cent discount within five hours 
of the time when they were issued. They had bought 
sheets, stuck several of the stamps on first-day covers which 
they could later sell at a handsome profit, saved the plate 
number and arrow blocks of four, and sold the few remain- 
ing singles at 27 cents each, so as to clean up their stock 
by nightfall! 

There are still traveling stamp dealers, including some 
who commute between Europe and the Americas and do 
a large business. There are still stamp hunters who do a 
bit of personal searching, but who for the most part buy 
through established contacts with business houses or stamp- 
hounds in foreign countries. Some of these are honorable 
folk, but some others well, one of them, selling to a dealer 
some stamps just obtained from a correspondent abroad, 
grinned over war conditions after his trade was completed 
and said, "Of course I ain't gointa pay the guy for 'em/' 



i not alone the schoolboy. 
M 1 1 M_ ' L V . J 

the clerk, the capitalist and 
the chauffeur who collect- 
there are also scholars, devotees of the arts, priests, and 
potentates enlisted in the great army of fans. King George 
V of England was for decades perhaps the most famous of 
philatelists; his son, King Edward VIII, began dabbling in 
the hobby when a boy, and some of the royal dukes were 
ardent collectors. Many British noblemen, including the 
Earl of Crawford, already mentioned, have been thirty- 
third degree devotees. And there were also such varied 
characters as the late King Ahmed Fuad of Egypt, the ex- 
King Alfonso XIII of Spain, the present King Humbert 
of Italy and the Czar Alexander III, who preserved until 
his death his collection of birds' eggs and stamps, begun 
when he was a boy. It is recalled that when we issued our 
great Columbian series in 1893, our ^ rs ^ ^S splurge in 
commemoratives, one of the very early applications for a 
set came from the nine-year-old Queen Wilhelmina of 
Holland, through the Dutch consul at New York; and the 
queen is still at it. 

When in 1884 the King of Siam's youngest brother, 
Prince Tshanfu Banurenhghi Surang Wong Chhom-Luang 
Bannhangtwonghi Wordate, was appointed postmaster- 



John K. Tiffany 

Hiram E. Deats 

E.L.R. von Ferrary 

Arthur Hind 


Chas. Lathrop 


From the Collection of Philip H. Ward, Jr. 

The seven United States inverted center stamps. The 1918 air 
il is from a sheet for which Col. E. H. R. Green Daid 


general of his country, he sent at once to Leipzig for a fine 
album and all the varieties of stamps that he could get hold 
of in one shipment approaching the subject with the 
sledge-hammer technic first adopted by a noted American 
collector whom we shall mention hereafter. The late Queen 
Marie of Roumania was a collector and passed her hobby 
on to her son, King Carol; and princes of the royal house of 
Japan are numbered among the elect. For decades after 
Japan was opened to the commerce of the world, the Jap- 
anese sold without stint to the eager Occidentals, for prices 
which seemed to them fabulous, many of their greatest art 
treasures and all of their old stamps that could be found. 
Then, becoming Occidentalized and beginning to wear the 
ugly clothing of the white races, they also became hobby- 
conscious and developed a sense of shame at losing so many 
of their rarities. So the twentieth century sees many of their 
noble and wealthy men becoming philatelists and collectors 
of their own old porcelains, armor, and ivories. 

In the western world, General Porfirio Diaz, dictator- 
president of Mexico from 1884 to 1911, is said to have had 
the finest collection of Mexico, Central and South America 
ever assembled, many of them with unique association 
value; for it was long his custom to procure panes of new 
issues by the Latin American republics and have them auto- 
graphed by their Presidents. He had fine singles, blocks and 
panes of the issues of Maximilian's tragic empire, the in- 
verted quetzals of Guatemala, and so forth. When the revo- 
lution of 1911 burst over his head he had to leave his 
stamps behind in his flight. During the saturnalia which 
usually accompany such upheavals, a gang of peon soldiers 
under command of a stripling "captain" invaded Chapul- 
tepec Castle, broke open the strong boxes where the stamps 
were kept, and after a stupid, uncomprehending glance at 


the albums, tossed them through the windows and into a 
bonfire below an act of vandalism rivaling, in the minds 
of all the philatelists, that of the destruction of the records 
of Aztec culture by Spanish priests nearly four centuries 

In the United States, our top-ranking collector at present 
is of course President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who is par- 
ticularly interested in American countries, in Haiti and 
Hong Kong. The last-named specialty he inherited from 
his mother, who was for decades a keen collector. A num- 
ber of his associates in the Administration are also col- 
lectors, with interesting evolvements, as we shall see later. 
Senator James M. Mead, of New York, has probably the 
largest collection of anyone on Capitol Hill. Former Presi- 
dent Herbert Hoover is enrolled in the American Philatelic 
Society, but does not appear to be very active in the hobby. 
One might go on to mention eminences in the arts, such 
as Adolphe Menjou and Jean Hersholt, film actors; Lauritz 
Melchior and Lily Pons, Metropolitan Opera singers, Ellis 
Parker Butler, the author, and that waggish scribe, H. Bed- 
ford-Jones, who likes to use his brother philatelists' real 
names for characters, not always lovely, in his stories. That 
of Harry L. Lindquist, editor and publisher, for example, 
has figured frequently in them, and in a quite recent one he 
was murdered. Pitifully, Mr. Lindquist has begged to be a 
hero some time in a romance, but in vain; Bedford-Jones 
is inexorable. 

For reminiscences of King George V and dozens of other 
great European collectors, Mr. Charles J. Phillips, long a 
British dealer, but now a resident of New York, is easily 
pre-eminent. As head of the Stanley Gibbons concern, Mr. 
Phillips was for years the chief purveyor of stamps to the 
king, and used to visit Buckingham Palace regularly on cer- 


tain days with new offerings, items he thought the king 
needed to fill gaps in his collection which embraced only 
Britain and colonial possessions and dominions. Soon after 
his arrival at the palace the democratic monarch, his face 
alight with pleasurable anticipation, would bustle in with a 
genial ''Good morning, Mr. Phillips," and a handshake, 
then, "Sit down. Have a cigar? Now, what have we today?" 

Although Phillips could not make a practice of intro- 
ducing just any American philatelist who wanted to meet 
the king, whenever there came one who had a really great 
collection or who was a high authority, King George was 
always glad to meet and talk shop with him, to look at the 
visitor's treasures, if he had any with him, and to display 
some of his own. Fine stamps were frequently offered him 
as gifts, but the king was a stickler for the rule that the 
royal family does not accept gifts of commercial value, 
though he relaxed it on rare occasions when it would have 
been too unkind not to do so. At one time a young Ameri- 
can collector, who had risen to eminence in a short time 
by lavish expenditure, was in London and Mr. Phillips ar- 
ranged to take him to the palace. During the interview, the 
talk drifted to a certain imperforate stamp, and the king 
remarked that he had never seen a genuine one. 

"Oh, but I have several, Your Majesty," prattled the 

"I'm sorry, Mr. A.," Phillips put in. "If you have any, 
they are forgeries. Such a thing as a real one doesn't exist." 

"I didn't know that," said the other, abashed. "I bought 
them from an American dealer, and I supposed they were 
all right." 

The end of the call came, the visitors arose, and Mr. A. 
thanked the monarch for his courtesy and the opportunity 
of seeing his stamps. Then he added, diffidently, "Now it 


would give me great pleasure if Your Majesty would accept 
a stamp from me for your collection, just as a a souvenir 
of my call"; and before Phillips's horrified eyes, he handed 
the king one of those fake imperf orates! 

So courteous a man as royal George would not humiliate 
a guest in his house, and for so small a thing; so he bowed 
and without evincing the slightest surprise at the nature of 
the gift, thanked the caller as heartily as if he had given 
him something really worth while. When they were out- 
side, Phillips turned on his companion furiously. 

"What under the sun were you thinking of," he de- 
manded, "to give the king that worthless piece of paper? 
I ought to kick your stern all over London." 

The young man couldn't explain it himself. Just em- 
barrassment and confusion, it seemed. Not knowing that 
the stamp was a fake, he had put it in his pocket before 
they started for the palace, intending it as a gift for His 
Majesty. When he was saying his farewell, he suddenly re- 
membered that he had intended making a presentation of 
something or other; in his excitement he momentarily for- 
got that Phillips had denounced the stamp as a counter- 
feit, even forgot what stamp he was handing out. There 
didn't seem to be anything that anybody could do about 
it now, so nobody did anything. Did Mr. Phillips ever 
apologize to the king for the gaffe? one asks. No, he replies, 
and the king never spoke of it to him, either; it just seems 
to have been one of those contretemps so ghastly that two 
gentlemen couldn't even mention it to one another. But 
the king evidently didn't hold Phillips accountable for the 
vagaries of his American customer, for the incident did not 
disturb their business relations. 

Mr. Phillips recalls that the Prince of Wales, now the 
Duke of Windsor, when a boy in his early teens, frequently 


bought stamps out of his pocket allowance, but once 
gloomily remarked that he didn't believe he would ever get 
anywhere with his collecting, because the "Old Man" 
picked up everything good that came along. 

The king did make many rich purchases, some of them 
in America. He bought, for example, the entire collections 
of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland from 
Charles Lathrop Pack, then conceded to be the most com- 
prehensive in existence. But even royalty can't get every- 
thing it wants, and King George died with many rare old 
items still missing from his collection. It is still kept up and 
perhaps some day it may become a part of the British 
Museum. Sir John Wilson is its curator now, and the pres- 
ent king has authorized him to sell one of the many dupli- 
cates when there is a favorable opportunity, and use the 
money in buying other stamps. At a sale in New York in 
1939, the Estate of King George V was represented by a 
buyer. Little Princess Margaret Rose is carrying on the 
philatelic traditions of the family. 

The legend that King George was an unsuccessful bidder 
for the famous British Guiana 1856 one-cent magenta rarity 
at the Ferrary sale has gained wide credence, but it is said 
to be untrue. This stamp, the world's most valuable scrap 
of paper, the only one known of its kind, is a shoddy- 
looking thing, set up in type and printed in a newspaper 
office in Georgetown, the Guiana capital. It is off color 
through error, and the four corners have been clipped a bit 
for some reason, which would reduce the value of any 
ordinary stamp frightfully; but not so this rough gem. From 
the time of its discovery, its price has leaped at every sale 
and each of its four changes of ownership is known. When 
the great Ferrary collection was dispersed between 1921 
and 1925, the British Guiana stamps were the star perform- 


ers. A pair of the 1850 two-cent black on rose another 
crude newspaper job on an envelope, sold for more than 
twenty thousand dollars, and a dozen other items brought 
from one to five thousand dollars. The appearance on the 
auction block of the 1856 error was looked forward to with 
eager anticipation. Arthur Hind, the Utica millionaire, who 
was bent on outdoing Ferrary in the matter of a stamp 
collection, had given his agent permission to bid as high as 
sixty thousand dollars for it, if necessary, but the bidding 
stopped far short of that, and the stamp was knocked down 
to him for about $32,500 in American money. 

And here let us pause to contemplate a fine example of 
the irony of events. When the news of that sale was flashed 
back to England, a man in his middle sixties named L. 
Vernon Vaughn heard it with a queer, wistful little smile; 
for half a century before, he, then a boy of fifteen, had 
found that very stamp on an old family letter and sold it 
for six shillings! He was interested in acquiring pretty sets 
of new, unused stamps then, and needing money with 
which to buy them, he decided to sell this one, as it was 
rather a poor copy, anyhow, and he thought he could easily 
find a better specimen in the family attic. The man to 
whom he sold it didn't like its mutilated condition, but 
evidently he, too, knew he was getting something good, else 
he wouldn't have paid the boy even six shillings for it; 
though, says Mr. Vaughn, he "impressed upon me that he 
was taking a great risk by buying it, and that he hoped I 
should appreciate his generosity." A few years later, that 
man sold this and some other British Guiana stamps, all 
now great rarities, for 120 to Thomas Ridpath of Liver- 
pool, who evidently had in mind at the time the idea of 
selling this 1856 item to Ferrary, for he did so as soon as 
possible, and therefore, it is reasonable to suppose, at a 


handsome profit, though we do not know the figure. In 
Ferrary's collection it remained for forty-four years. 

When Phillips asked Hind why he paid such a fantastic 
price for the stamp, the latter replied that he had deter- 
mined to buy the highest-priced article offered at the 
Ferrary sales, thinking that it would give him so much pub- 
licity that he would receive many offers of rare stamps, in- 
cluding some perhaps never before on the market; but in 
this hope he was disappointed. He received thousands of 
letters, but was able to buy almost nothing of any real 

As for the king's interest in this stamp, Bacon, his phil- 
atelic secretary, told Phillips that he "didn't want a cripple 
in his collection," referring to the cut corners. When Hind 
and several other collectors called at Buckingham Palace 
during a philatelic exhibition, the king told Hind he did 
not begrudge him that stamp, but that he had been inter- 
ested in getting a Niger Coast provisional, twenty-shillings 
on one-shilling, on which Hind outbid his agent in the sale. 
Hind immediately offered to present the stamp to the king, 
but the latter just as promptly, though courteously, in- 
formed him that this was an occasion when he would not 
relax the rule. 

Hind liked to go on trips around the world with William 
C. Kennett, his philatelic secretary, picking up stamps in 
every country he visited; buying blocks of four at the post 
offices, then visiting the dealers' shops, and even seeking 
attic and trunk hoards. As told by Harry Konwiser in the 
magazine Stamps, in Samoa they ran into a group of beau- 
tiful native maidens, all supposed to be princesses of the 
old royal blood, who told them of a house on a hill where 
there were many, many letters. When they had located the 
place, they found it was the former home of Robert Louis 


Stevenson, now preserved as a shrine, where a crusty care- 
taker told them that there were no letters there, and if 
there were, he wouldn't let strangers look at them. In 
Tonga, warned beforehand of the king's likings, they went 
to see him with bottles of Haig & Haig under each arm. 
The king was desolated at being unable to supply Mr. Hind 
with certain old stamps, but he could do the next best 
thing he could give him the plates. But in the middle of 
the following night, the British Resident awoke Hind from 
sleep to demand the return of the plates to him, saying 
that they weren't the king's property. 

Ferrary and Hind were both reckless buyers, and paid 
little attention to expert advice. Ferrary gave as one of the 
reasons why he never exhibited his stamps the undoubted 
fact that there was a dealer tendency to charge him too stiff 
a price for a certain rarity if they knew he lacked it. "They 
know I can't refuse to buy a variety I haven't got," he said 
plaintively, "and they take advantage of me." This sounds 
more plausible than his other excuse that he promised his 
mother never to let his stamps leave their home in the Rue 
de Varenne. Phillips once met him coming from a certain 
large stamp shop and chided him, saying, "Why do you go 
in that place? You know they would just as lief sell you a 
counterfeit as a real stamp." To which Ferrary pleaded, "I 
know it, but I occasionally find some variety there that I 
want, and I would rather buy a hundred forgeries than 
miss that variety that I couldn't find elsewhere." 

Hind was similarly headstrong. He had a wonderful col- 
lection, including probably the finest assemblages of Spain, 
Mauritius, United States and Confederates in existence. He 
had bought the whole of the Ferrary collection of Nevis 
uncut sheets, of the Uganda missionary stamps, of the 
Indian feudatory states, and a flock of Hawaiian mission- 


aries. He had corralled the only known copies of the Lock- 
port and Boscawen postmaster stamps, the Annapolis five- 
cent red, of which only one other copy is known, the 
Alexandria five-cent black on buff, one of five known 
copies; the New Haven five-cent blue on buff, one of two 
copies extant and another New Haven almost as rare; the 
only known pair of the ninety-cent U. S. blue, 1861; the 
only known unused block of four of the five-cent red-brown 
U. S. 1851, which had come to him via the F. W. Ayer 
and Henry Duveen collections; two pairs of the thirty-cent 
brownish-orange of 1860, and so many more rarities that 
several catalogues were required to list them. But, lamented 
Phillips, he had also quantities of junk; he would never 
take advice. 

He died at an unfortunate time for his estate in 1933, 
when America's spirits and financial status were low. His 
collection was appraised by Kennett and Phillips, and sales 
of the stamps were begun late in 1933; but the results were 
not what the estate had hoped for, and a great sale to be 
held early in 1934 was canceled after some expectant Euro- 
pean buyers were already on the way. A draft for $82,000 
had been sent with buying orders from one wealthy col- 
lector across the water, and among others who had placed 
such orders was King Carol of Roumania, some of whose 
bids were twenty-five per cent above catalogue prices. A 
British syndicate took over the remainder of the collection 
and sold it in London. The total sum realized, says Mr. 
Phillips, was $680,000, about sixty per cent of what the 
stamps had cost Hind. The British Guiana 1856 rarity re- 
mained in Mrs. Hind's possession, it being claimed that her 
husband had given it to her just before his death. In 1935, 
by which time Mrs. Hind had become Mrs. P. Costa Scala, 
this stamp's value was placed at $50,000, but everyone is 


well aware that with rich men's bankbooks in their present 
condition, it would probably not bring half that sum if it 
were sold. 

Phillips says that the estate would have been $250,000 
richer had Hind been willing to accept an offer of $485,000 
for his United States and Canada stamps which Phillips 
procured for him shortly before his death. But Hind held 
out for half a million, and there was no sale. Even at that, 
the stamp collection was the most valuable part of his 
estate. The rest of the assets of this man who had once paid 
taxes on a million-dollar income reached a total of only 

With Hind died the last of that great clan who tried to 
encompass everything. Those who are left are all specialists. 

F. W. Ayer of Bangor, Maine, who as a very young man 
began buying in a big way late in the nineteenth century, 
might have kept some great rarities out of the hands of 
Hind had not unusual circumstances intervened. Among 
his other startling moves, he bought a great number of 
complete sets in sheets of our Columbian issue of 1893 as 
a speculation, then lost his nerve and traded them at face 
value to dealers for rarities. No expense daunted him. He 
once wrote Phillips, then with the Gibbons concern in 
London, asking him to come to Bangor at once with a good 
assortment of worth-while stamps. They had a good laugh 
in the Gibbons office over this letter, and Phillips wrote 
that he was too busy to trek across the Atlantic just at that 
moment. They had hardly had time to turn around before 
five-thousand pounds sterling came by cable from Ayer, 
with a curt communication whose general tenor was that if 
this wasn't enough he would cable another five thousand. 
Money talks louder than typed words, and the cable wasn't 
cold before Mr. Phillips was packing his bag. 


But Nemesis, in the form of his millionaire Yankee in- 
dustrialist father was on Frederick's trail. Ayer Senior re- 
garded his son's wild expenditure of money on stamps as 
but little better than blowing it in on wine, women and 
song. After some years, an impasse was reached, and 
Phillips received an anguished letter from Ayer, saying that 
he was about to be disinherited for his philatelic folly, and 
would have to sell all his best stamps. He came over to 
London with about $750,000 worth, arranged with Gibbons 
to sell them at auction, received an advance of $25,000 on 
account and cabled it to his father as proof of his sanity. 
He thereafter disappeared from the ranks of the great col- 

Another heir who began collecting even earlier, though 
without the recklessness of Ayer, was a boy over in New 
Jersey named Hiram E. Beats. Left an orphan before his 
maturity, he must have had some wise guardians, with per- 
haps some philatelists among them. The New York Times 
of August 6th, 1890, reporting the annual show of the 
A. P. A., remarked that "H. E. Deats of Hightstown, N. J., 
a young man of eighteen, shows a collection of proofs of 
United States stamps that his guardians permitted him to 
give $7,000 for." At the age of nine, young Deats had found 
on the floor of the post office of his home town an envelope 
with a foreign stamp on it, a blinding revelation to him. 
Until that moment, it had never occurred to him that 
everybody didn't use the same stamps. He set about col- 
lecting them, and for three or four years supposed himself 
the only stamp collector living. Then a cousin showed him 
a stamp price-list, and the gates of a new world were 

Before he was thirty he had one of the three greatest 
revenue, match and medicine stamp collections in America. 


His United States and Confederate collections were world 
renowned. In the '90*5 he was Ferrar/s chief rival for Con- 
federates, his postmaster provisionals of that short-lived na- 
tion being considered the best of his time. He discovered 
the unique Boscawen stamp in 1894 and sold it to Ferrary, 
from whom it came back to Hind for $12,000. He was like- 
wise a philatelic bibliographer. In 1896 J. W. Scott wrote, 
"Complete libraries of all stamp publications are probably 
possessed by only two men, Messrs. Tiffany and Deats." He 
has touched no subject to which he has not added knowl- 
edge. Historians of United States and Confederate stamps 
and even Sir Edward Bacon, compiler of the Earl of Craw- 
ford's catalogue, all make acknowledgment of his help. He 
and two other young men, George Toppan and Alexander 
Holland sweated through a hot summer at compiling the 
"Boston Revenue Book," that Bible of the fiscal collector. 
Deats's career has been a record of making collections of 
this or that and selling them. "The fun is in the chase/' is 
his favorite saying, and once attainment has been realized, 
he turns to something else. 

Other great collectors of the recent past Tiffany, Cor- 
win, Curie, Chase, Duveen, Pack, Mandel, Worthington, 
Thorne, Hawkins and Blair have already been mentioned 
in the chapter on specialization; likewise Mrs. Cromwell, 
Watson and others among living hobbyists; and there are 
yet others; Arthur H. Lamborn, the coffee millionaire, for 
example, whose collection of plate number items, all in 
mint condition, included almost every issue from 1894 * 
1920; and Theodore E. Steinway, who, when he was mar- 
ried in 1913, feared that his wife would object to his spend- 
ing so much money on stamps, so he sold all his British 
colonials save the Australians, his favorite specialty, and 
built a bungalow for her with the proceeds. But lo and 


behold, she became a collector, too, and later their four 
sons and two daughters took up the hobby, making them 
a unique family. A. H. Caspary, a New York broker, is in- 
terested in nothing but rarities. "He won't look at anything 
that costs less than ten or twenty dollars," a dealer told us. 
Naturally, his is one of the wonder collections of the pres- 
ent day. Just as a sample he has a block of six unused 
of the Pleasant Shade, Virginia, Confederate postmaster 
stamp and a single one is catalogued by Scott at $2,000! 
Mr. Caspary also has a single and a pair. A pair from the 
Hind collection sold to Judge Emerson of Providence for 
$5,400, and a pair on cover is catalogued by Scott at $6,000. 

Alfred Lichtenstein, another of the eminent philatelists 
of the present moment, whose collections of British North 
America, Uruguay, Argentina, Mauritius, Cape of Good 
Hope and our western express franks, to mention only a 
few of his specialties, are known the world over, has some 
items such as a couple of Mauritius stamps on an envelope 
and a block of four of the Cape of Good Hope triangular 
wood block errors on a cover, before which collectors stand 
with uncovered heads. 

The Crockers, Henry J. and William H., cousins of each 
other and of the Pacific Railroad magnate, were famous 
collectors around the turn of the century. Henry built great 
collections of Hawaii and Japan, and wrote a monograph 
on the Hawaiian Numerals. His Japanese collection, as 
already reported, was destroyed in the great fire of 1906, 
but the Hawaiians were in an exhibition in London at the 
time and so escaped. William's wealth enabled him to 
make many lucky purchases from less fortunate folk. A 
widowed stamp dealer, known to and beloved by all the 
Pacific Coast as "Mother" Craig, who carried on the col- 
lection begun in the i86o's by her husband Sydney Views, 


British American and early United States, including a 
Brattleboro and other rarities fell upon hard times in 
1884, and sold this collection to William Crocker for 
$1,100. In 1887 he bought another man's collection of 
western franks, U. S. envelopes and U. S. and foreign reve- 
nues for $850. A South American stranded in San Francisco 
sold his fine collection of that continent to Crocker for 
two hundred dollars. 

He paid a little more dearly for the block of four twenty- 
four-cent 1869 inverts, which had been discovered in Liver- 
pool in the latter '90*8 by "a mysterious party" known to 
Liverpool dealers "only as the Upside-Down Man." He 
sold it to a small dealer jokingly called "the office boys' 
friend," who, in turn, sold it for five pounds; a transaction 
whose memory, in the light of later transfers, was so pain- 
ful that he could never bear to talk about it. It passed into 
the hands of William Thorne of New York. He sold it, 
when he broke up his collection, to a dealer, who handed 
it over to William Crocker. At the sale of Crocker's collec- 
tion in December, 1938, a New York dealer bought it by 
ocean telephone for approximately $11,650 and resold it 
very neatly to E. Bradley Martin, Jr., of New York, a rising 
star in philately from what present-day journalese calls the 
"socialite" class, for $25,000. What memories his name re- 
calls! that Bradley Martin ball in 1897, for example, a 
milestone in the social history of Gotham. The present Mr. 
Martin seems well on his way toward the ownership of the 
world's most valuable collection. From that same Crocker 
sale he also bought with dealers in between making nice 
profits a mint block of the 1893 Columbian four-cent error 
in blue for $6,000, a used specimen of the thirty-cent 1869 
invert for $4,000, and a mint copy of the 1901 Pan-Ameri- 
can two-cent invert for $3,250. 


Incidentally, there are those who believe that his block 
of the twenty-four-cent 1869 invert will eventually displace 
that British Guiana 1856 error as the world's most valuable 
philatelic item. There are not wanting skeptics who point 
out that all research has failed to find any governmental 
record or other proof of the origin of that Guiana rarity, 
and these whispers have undoubtedly injured its market 
value, probably unjustly. 

William Crocker was one of the few rich men apparently 
too busy to give much time to his so-called hobby, and so 
did quite a bit of his collecting by wholesale or by proxy. 
When the Gibbons company bought the first Castle col- 
lection of Australians in 1894, Mr. Phillips, its chairman, 
traveled to America and all the way across it with a bag 
full of the stamps which he knew Crocker needed. The 
banker wanted the stamps, but he was just too busy to see 
Phillips, and so the latter cooled his heels around San 
Francisco for several days. Finally Crocker said, "Just g 
through my albums, pick out from your stamps anything 
that's missing, and Fll buy them." Phillips did so, and 
when he succeeded in obtaining another audience, he pre- 
sented his bill, amounting to many thousands of dollars. 
Crocker at once gave him an order on the cashier for the 

"But don't you want to see the stamps Fve sold you?" 
asked Phillips. "Fve mounted them all separately, so that 
you can see just what they are." 

"I haven't time," said Crocker. "I'm satisfied. I only wish 
you had mounted them right in the albums where they 

Of all American collectors, none was so different or so 
magnificent as the late Colonel Edward H. R. Green, son 
of Mrs. Hetty Green, the world's most famous millionairess 


and miser. Her penny-pinching disposition was not inher- 
ited by her son; he saw money as something to have fun 
with not in the way of riotous living; he was no playboy 
but mostly with hobbies. And with all his spending, he was 
no Coal-Oil Johnny; his fortune was much larger when he 
died than when he inherited it. 

He was middle-aged before he suddenly decided that he 
would become an addict to philately. There are two stories 
told of his beginning. One is that he went into a large up- 
town stamp house in New York and asked for a "collection 
of stamps." A clerk showed him an envelope containing 
possibly two hundred mixed. He waved that aside impa- 
tiently. "I want a real collection," he said. 

The clerks weren't bright enough to discover who he 
was, though the wealthy giant with the round face and 
lame leg had been pictured and written about often enough, 
goodness knows. So they went on showing him, one after 
another, packets of steadily increasing size five hundred, a 
thousand, and finally perhaps five thousand stamps, with a 
top price of perhaps fifty or a hundred dollars. The cus- 
tomer was increasingly indignant. They didn't seem to un- 
derstand him at all. He knew that a real stamp collection 
cost thousands of dollars, and they were offering him junk. 
He finally stumped out of the place in disgust and never 
went back. 

Another story is that he went into one of the uptown 
shops and bought a packet of a thousand stamps and an 
album, which he said was for the son of his laundryman. 
A day or two later he came back, asked to see the manager; 
said that he'd become interested in philately after looking 
over those stamps and decided to begin collecting. Had 
they a good lot for him to begin on? They had; another 
man's collection in seven or eight albums which had been 

Wide World Photos 

Senator James M. Mead of New York mounts his stamp col- 
lection in various ways. 

Wide World Photos 

1 1 


turned over to the dealer to be sold. After some discussion, 
the colonel handed over thirty-one thousand-dollar bills in 
payment for the collection, and took it away with him. 
Both these stories are probably founded on fact. 

Later Colonel Green discovered Nassau Street where, in 
the next few years, his money gilded the frame of life for 
several favored merchants, and the uptown shops saw little 
of him. 

The colonel was no fool; once he got the hang of things 
he studied philately, and soon knew his way about the 
labyrinth. He found that the quickest way to build up a 
collection was to buy other men's collections of which it is 
calculated that he bought, all told, about a hundred and 
twenty. He was also apt to give a dealer a blanket order 
to buy every specimen of certain stamps Cape of Good 
Hope triangles, for example that he could lay hands on. 
He very nearly cornered the market on the United States 
stamps that were overprinted for Guam shortly after our 
acquisition of it. He probably had the greatest number of 
duplicates of any collector in history. Along about 1919-21 
when his enthusiasm was at its height, he would close his 
desk in the old Seaboard National Bank Building shortly 
after three P.M., call his chauffeur and say, "Now, George, 
let's go over to Nassau Street." He had at various times 
several dealers with whom he spent much money, but these 
were casually selected; and this brings up one of the favor- 
ite stories of the Street. 

Ordinarily a good-natured man, the colonel sometimes 
took quick offense at a thoughtless remark or action of a 
dealer and forsook him forever. He was always friendly with 
policemen, occasionally stopping to talk with them. Once 
he came out of a stamp shop in some heat and told the 
traffic cop on a near-by corner that he had been badly 


treated in that place. The policeman knew rather less about 
such business than he knew about the Man in the Moon, 
though he was vaguely aware that stamps were sold along 
the street; in fact, a dealer's frame of stamps was visible 
beside a doorway from where they stood. 

"Why don't you try them guys over there?" asked the 
helpful cop, pointing. 

"I will," said Colonel Green; and he made his word good 
by spending some hundreds of thousands of dollars with 
that shop in the next two or three years, even sending the 
head of the firm on one occasion on a damn-the-expense 
trip to Russia to buy a special collection which cost him 
about fifty thousand dollars. 

There were sometimes two or three dealers at once whose 
shops were his favorite places of call. At times he didn't 
bother to tell George which place he wished to visit, and on 
such occasions George would stop wherever traffic condi- 
tions seemed most favorable. A shrewd young clerk in one 
of the shops they were all on upper floors sometimes car- 
ried collections bought by Green down to his car, and he 
cultivated the chauffeur, giving him cigarettes and learning 
more of the colonel's peculiarities. He also heard that 
George's schoolboy son was a beginning collector, which 
gave the clerk an idea. He made up an album of cheap 
stamps out of his employer's stock, gave it to the chauffeur, 
and thereafter, George more frequently found it convenient 
to stop in front of that building. 

During those peak years, the number of collections 
bought by Colonel Green was fantastic. He might buy one 
of ten albums today, another of twenty-five tomorrow. If a 
collection had a few stamps in it that he wanted some- 
times only one stamp! and the dealer showed a slight re- 
luctance, as they naturally came to do and who wouldn't? 


to break it, the colonel, after chaffering a bit as to price, 
would finally say, "Oh, wrap it all up." His big, dark-green, 
seven-passenger Fierce-Arrow car and how much greener 
with envy it made other dealers when they saw it standing 
in front of a certain building! sometimes drove away with 
its rear seating space piled so high with wrapped albums 
that the colonel's round, beaming face could just peer over 
them. One of the small, folding seats in front of him was 
arranged so that he could rest that bad leg on it. 

How eagerly his regular dealers listened in the late after- 
noon for the stump, stump of that leg in the hall outside 
the door! When he entered, he sat down with his side to 
the dealer's long table, hoisted that and then the other leg 
to the table, and sat thus, examining the offerings. It was 
a common thing for him to write a check for from ten to 
twenty-five thousand dollars for an afternoon's purchases. 
The biggest single day's check was for $77,000. Another of 
$72,000 was given in payment for a British American collec- 
tion, and the deal was put through in fifteen minutes. 
There was one dealer who, if he spent only three thousand 
or five thousand dollars, would stamp about the office after- 
ward, cursing him for a damned piker and a tightwad. 

This dealer, whose ethics were not of the highest, once 
had a collection made up and mounted in albums by his 
two clerks, embodying a lot of good twentieth-century 
stamps, in which the colonel was particularly interested at 
the time, and several pounds of goods which had been on 
hand for a long time. The clerks worked for days on the 
job. When the albums were made up, they had put in so 
much cheap stuff that the proprietor raved, "Junk! I 
wouldn't even show it to him! Why, there isn't even five- 
thousand dollars' worth of stamps there!" 

The clerks contradicted this, pointing out that their 


catalogue value was really between seven and eight thou- 
sand dollars, and that there were things there which Green 
particularly needed to fill gaps in his collection. The boss 
was finally persuaded to take on the deal. The rarest, the 
best stuff must of course be shown to the customer, to the 
exclusion of the other, and in such a way as to seem casual, 
to give the appearance that the collection was all like that. 
It wouldn't do to put slips of paper in the albums as mark- 
ers, so a page where the best items occurred was slightly 
bent or thumb-nailed after the manner of the gambling 
shark's marked cards, and these albums were placed on top. 
The dealer would pick up one in the most casual manner 
and say, "Now, for example," carefully flipping it open at 
the marked page, and when the colonel had seen a few 
stamps there, "Now take another album," and there would 
be some more luscious beauties. 

"Whose collection is this?" asked the colonel. 

"It's a Russian Grand Duke's," was the yarn. "The 
Grand Duke er Alexandrovitch. Chased out of Russia 
when the Bolsheviks came in; went broke and all that, you 

("He couldn't remember that name again to save his 
soul," muttered one clerk to another in the next room. ) 

The "collection" was priced at $25,000, and the colonel, 
after beating the price down to $21,000, said, "Wrap it 
up," and went away, well pleased with his bargain. 

After all, he was having a good time, he could afford it, 
and who is there to criticize him? He lived in a suite in the 
old Waldorf-Astoria, but he kept only some of his stamps 
there. He had a house in Ninetieth Street, which was full 
almost from cellar to garret with his stamp and coin col- 
lections, and there he had a staff of girls sorting, trying in 
vain to keep ahead of their employer's purchases, which he 


hoped "some day" to reassert himself. He bought the mag- 
nificent collection of Joseph Leavy, a lifelong specialist in 
Belgium, which had many re-entries and plate varieties, all 
carefully described on the pages, with plate positions de- 
termined and noted in many cases. Green turned this over 
to one of the girls, who removed the stamps and re- 
mounted most of them in stock albums, sidetracking what 
she regarded as duplicates and throwing the old album 
pages away, thus destroying Leavy's priceless life work. 

Once he found that he had bought a stamp which had 
been repaired by having parts of the margins added. In high 
dudgeon he hurried around to the office of a big optical 

"I want a magnifying glass," said he, "that will enlarge 
a postage stamp to a size four feet square, and with sharp, 
clear definition." 

The company worked for weeks, grinding the lenses and 
building that device. They charged him $22,000 for it, but 
that was nothing. The worst annoyance was that when it 
was delivered to the Ninetieth Street address it was so big 
that the door frame had to be taken out before they 
could get it into the house. The colonel had a white porce- 
lain screen built into the wall, and on that he would throw 
stereopticon enlargements of his stamps for study. 

Colonel Green was a frequent attendant at auctions, but 
didn't bid as recklessly as one might expect, being often 
outbid by others on single rarities, on which he was apt to 
display excellent judgment. Plate number blocks intrigued 
him for some time, and he actually enlisted the aid of the 
City Hall Post Office in this fad. The booklets of one-, two- 
and three-cent stamps which we have been buying for years 
are shipped out to the post offices in boxes; and at this 
office, clerks would go through the boxes for Green and 


sort out every booklet in which plate numbers appeared. 
At intervals of a few days he would come around and buy 
the accumulation, paying for them from a wallet full of 
new money carried in an inside vest pocket. Those who 
knew him say they never saw him have a soiled bill; if he 
had to take one in change, he got rid of it as quickly as 
possible. He is known to have bought as high as twelve 
hundred dollars' worth of the stamp booklets at once. Then 
he would pass the evening very happily in his Waldorf 
suite, pulling the clips out of the books with a pair of small 
tweezers and laying out about three blocks of four of each 
plate number for himself. The rest of the stamps he would 
turn into his own bank, the Seaboard, next morning and 
get cash on them. 

There was always something boyish about the colonel. 
One afternoon he went into Nassau Street in great glee 
with an atomizer full of a new and wonderfully volatile 
liquid which, when sprayed upon a stamp, would bring out 
the watermark very clearly for a few moments, then evap- 
orate, leaving the stamp theoretically as good as new. He 
wasn't at all interested in buying stamps that afternoon; 
just wanted to play with that new gadget. At his order, the 
annoyed dealers brought forth stamp after stamp for him 
to spray and watch delightedly as the watermark stood 
forth and then slowly faded. He didn't buy a dime's worth 
that day, and the dealers hoped he would never discover 
another such plaything. 

He once commissioned a Nassau Street concern to pre- 
pare a great number of album pages for him, beginning 
with Great Britain and colonies, and allotting only one 
page to each stamp, on which it alone was to be mounted 
in blocks, pairs and singles, and with all its varieties. At a 
top corner of each page was to be lettered the stamp's num- 


ber according to Gibbons, Scott and all other cataloguers 
who might list it. The total cost of the order ran into thou- 
sands of dollars. The pages were delivered, and the dealers 
heard no more of the matter for a while. Finally one of 
them asked the colonel how he was getting along with the 
new albums. 

"Oh, that idea didn't work out at all," he replied. "In 
some cases I couldn't get all the varieties and so on onto 
one page and in short, it was a mess." 

"What did you do with the album pages?" he was asked. 

"Threw 'em away!" 

Colonel Green is best remembered by many in connec- 
tion with the famous air-mail bi-color sheet of 1918 in 
which the airplane is inverted. A Washington stockbroker's 
clerk named W. T. Robey went to a branch post office in 
that city on the morning when the stamps were to be 
issued, but they had no sheets that were well centered. The 
clerk said a new supply would be in about noon, and when 
Robey went back with thirty dollars in his pocket, a sheet 
was handed out to him. At the first glance, he saw that the 
center vignette was upside down. He asked the clerk if 
there were any more "like this." There were only three 
more sheets, and they were all normal. Robey then called 
the clerk's attention to the invert, and the latter asked him 
to return it, which Robey of course refused to do. In those 
honest days, government still considered itself a bit dis- 
graced if it let an inverted or imperforate sheet get outside 
the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The clerk therefore 
rushed to a telephone, called up the postmaster-general's 
office and gave warning of the error that was afloat. Robey 
and a fellow clerk dashed about from one branch office to 
another, trying to find more of the sheets, but in vain. 
Stamps are printed in sheets of four hundred, so there must 


have been at least three other panes of one hundred like 
Robey's, but they have never appeared. Some gossips be- 
lieve they are in the government's own stamp collection. 
Anyhow, the sale of the stamps was halted for two hours in 
New York and Philadelphia that day while clerks searched 
for more bad sheets. 

Robey at once received a bid of $10,000 for the sheet. 
He went to New York, but could get no better offer. A 
man in Philadelphia asked him to stop there on his way 
home, and when he did so, asked him for an option on the 
sheet at $15,000, in behalf of a group being formed to buy 
it. Robey gave the option, and next day had an offer of 
$18,000 from a Washington dealer, but had to sell to the 
Philadelphia syndicate, which in turn sold the sheet to 
Colonel Green for $20,000. 

Certain dealers asked the colonel to have compassion on 
his fellow collectors, and he graciously broke up the sheet, 
retaining the arrow and number blocks and the cross-line 
block in the center, as well as a few singles. He sold some 
singles at $150 each, and some later at $250. A few were 
lost. At one time thirteen copies, mostly with straight edge, 
blew off or fell off his desk, were swept up by a cleaner and 
destroyed. And once when he was away from home and Mrs. 
Green wished to send him a letter by air mail, she found 
one of those inverts on his desk and, not knowing its value, 
stuck it on the letter. Her husband quickly discovered it, 
peeled it off and thereafter wore it in a pendant on his 
watch chain. If still in existence, it is the only used speci- 
men of that rarity! 

That was undoubtedly the highest postage ever paid on 
a single letter. As an indication of what real stamp rarities 
will do for their owners, a single copy of that stamp was 


bought by Senator Frelinghuysen in 1932 for $2,750, and 
in 1939 one was sold at the auction of Stephen D. Brown's 
collection for $4,100! 

The twenty copies retained by Colonel Green were, so 
it is reported, in the cabin of his yacht when it sank in 
New Haven harbor. They were recovered, but in what con- 
ditionah, that is a secret. Some of his other fine stamps 
were along with them. The colonel became a radio enthu- 
siast some time after that, built his own broadcasting 
station at Round Hill, Massachusetts, and lost his interest 
in stamps. Shortly before his death in 1937 ^ e was r using 
from his several years' coldness and beginning to putter 
with his collection again, but his death cut short all the 
dealers' hopes. As items in his thirty-six-million-dollar es- 
tate, his stamps were appraised at $1,298,444 and his coins 
at $1,240,300. 

As this chapter is written, those stamps have not yet been 
sold, and all sorts of rumors may be heard. Did those air- 
mail inverts sink with the yacht, get wet and lose their 
gum? If so, according to prevailing standards, that greatly 
reduces their value though there are mutterings of re- 
bellion among collectors whose experience with unused 
stamps has been so unhappy sticking to whatever is near 
them in damp weather, curling up and cracking in dry- 
that they threaten to wash the gum off all their mint 
stamps and let those cavil who will. The late William E. 
Hawkins, who had one of the greatest collections of un- 
used nineteenth-century in existence it used to be told of 
him that he had only one used stamp, a ten-cent 1847 
bisect on an envelope, and that was given to him had also 
a cottage on the New Jersey coast, and there some of his 
fine mint sheets and blocks, dampened by the salt sea fogs, 


stuck to album pages and to each other so vexingly that 
Hawkins became disgusted and ceased collecting. 

"O hateful error, Melancholy's child!" cries Messala in 
Shakespeare's Julius Caesar; and sixty years ago, there were 
many who agreed with him. P. M. Wolsieffer, a veteran 
dealer, now dead, used to tell of how he tried to sell a 
nice, well-centered twenty-four-cent 1869 to L. W. Durbin, 
a prominent dealer of the day, but the latter refused it. 
"Why?" asked Wolsieffer, then a boy. "Because," replied 
Durbin, "the printer has made a mistake and printed the 
picture upside down." So young Wolsieffer traded the 
stamp to another boy for a ten-pfennig German. The mod- 
ern collector doesn't agree with Messala. To him, the error 
is the whipped cream of philately. 

The other most famous of our twentieth-century errors 
was the two-cent of the two-color Pan-American series, on 
which the train was inverted. There was a one-cent invert 
also, but at least seven sheets of this got into circulation. 
There seems to have been only one sheet of the two-cent, 
and this was bought by Frederick W. Davis, employee of 
a linotype company in Brooklyn. He presently began ped- 
dling a few of the stamps on Nassau Street at five dollars 
each, but dealers were a little afraid of them, and one who 
bought a block of four for twenty dollars became frightened 
and gladly sold it the same day at what it cost him. How 
he would like to have it now! To hear Davis's side of the 
story, one should read his pamphlet, "How I Made a 
Fortune on the Pan-American Stamps/' The "fortune," 
according to his own story, was three-hundred dollars; but 
he lists some of the things he bought with the money 
"highly polished oak dining table at Loeser's (recently 
marked down from $15 to $10.50) and four beautiful oak 
dining chairs to match at Abraham & Straus's, one with 


side arms and all made by Sykes of Buffalo for the round 
sum of $13 (regular price $15)" they were only part of 
the spoil. Finally, he wrote an article for the Brooklyn 
Eagle, the check for which paid for a trip to Buffalo "on 
the famous Heffley excursion." It is all delightful reading. 



N 1886 the New York World 

CHAPTER TEN | ,,. , . , , . 

of mill-end fiction, along with 
its news and editorials. In the issue of May fifth there was 
a thrilling story about the narrow escape of Dick Some- 
thingorother from losing his ancestral home, just as he had 
begun hankering to get married. The place was mortgaged 
right up to the ridge-pole, no less than a thousand dollars' 
incumbrance, and the skinflint who held the mortgage 
wouldn't grant another day's time, not even if Dick gave 
him his right eye. Sadly, Dick and his faithful sweetheart 
were going through some of his effects which would have 
to be removed or thrown away. They opened an old trunk 
in the attic; nothing of value there, said Dick just some 
old letters and such. But his girl, who was a stamp collec- 
tor, suddenly uttered a piercing cry of joy at sight of a 
letter from Brattleboro, Vermont, away back in eighteen- 
forty-something, and with a queer little label on it. Dick 
didn't know what it was, but she did. Here were several 
more from New Haven which excited her, several from St. 

Dick of course thought she was slightly gaga; but she 
explained to him that when Congress authorized stamps in 
1845 but forgot to have any printed, the postmasters at 



New York, Baltimore, Alexandria, Providence, New Haven, 
Annapolis, Millbury, Massachusetts and some other towns 
made stamps of their own, which were used until the gov- 
ernment's first stamps came out in '47; and these were now 
great rarities. Well, sir, believe it or not, they took those 
letters down to a stamp dealer in New York and got a cool 
$1,350 for them (think how much more they could have 
realized if they had held onto them for forty years!), paid 
off the mortgage and lived happily ever after. 

This motif has been worked into many forms, with and 
without stamps. Ben Ames Williams retold it with a comic 
twist in the Saturday Evening Post only three or four years 
ago. The leading character, a shiftless but likable Down 
East idler, whom luck always rescues from his troubles, is 
about to be turned out of his old home with his wife when 
he finds a batch of Hawaiian Missionaries in the attic, 
etc., etc. 

There are other stories resembling these which are 
vouched for as fact rather than fiction. There is the one, 
for example, about the little old lady in London, a widow 
for many years, living in a furnished room in poorer and 
poorer parts of town until matters were so desperate that 
she just didn't know how she was going to pay the rent 
another week or get bread to eat. She seemed to have sold 
everything of value she had, but at last she thought of 
.something else, though it didn't seem much of a prospect. 
Her husband silly boy! had collected postage stamps, and 
she still had his collection sentimentally stowed away. She 
shed a few tears at the thought of parting with these little 
tokens which he loved so much and which seemed to bring 
back his own dear self so brightly, but she must get a few 
shillings or pennies out of them if she could. So she put on 


her battered little hat and risked a coin on the Tube, and 
went timidly into a stamp dealer's shop in the Strand. 

"I wonder if you would care to buy a few stamps which 
I have here/' she said to a clerk. "They were my husband's. 
... He has been dead for many years. . . . Only my need 
for money has induced me to sell them. . . ." 

The clerk turned over a few pages, looked in a startled 
way at the little old lady in her threadbare dress, flipped 
over another page or two, and asked if he might show the 
albums to the proprietor in his office. He took them into 
the room back of the shop, and in five minutes reappeared 

"Will you step this way, please, madam?" he asked. 

The proprietor, magnifying glass in hand and an album 
open before him, rose, bowed and begged her to be seated. 
He asked a few questions, and then, clearing his throat, he 
said, "Madam, I couldn't think of making you an offer 
for this collection. It would be unfair to you; it is too valu- 
able. But with your permission, I should like to arrange to 
have it sold at auction." 

He went on to explain the auction machinery, the com- 
missions expected and so on. "In the meantime," he con- 
cluded, "I shall be glad to make you an advance of well, 
shall we say three-hundred pounds? . . . John! Get a glass 
of water quick!" 

They laid her on a sofa and moistened her brow and 
slapped her wrists in a masculinely awkward way, and pres- 
ently the old lady was able to sit up and say she felt better 
now, and she couldn't imagine what was the matter with 
her. And in a quarter-hour she was on her way in a cab 
toward a bank with some real cash in her pocket for im- 
mediate needs and a no, not a check a cheque; let's pre- 
serve the atmosphere which was to launch her on a new 


era of comfort and security. For they say that when those 
stamps were put up at auction, they brought more than 
twenty-five thousand dollars. 

A pleasant story, that, and one that deserves to be true, 
as it may very well be. Anyhow, it makes a good contrast 
to an incident which took place in New York thirty years 
ago. A plasterer who was an amateur stamp collector came 
to the shop of Bogert & Durbin one day in great excite- 
ment. He had been doing a job in the home of an old 
lady named Kennedy on lower Fifth Avenue, just above 
Washington Square. In the basement he had seen a quan- 
tity of old letters, the correspondence of her husband, 
long since dead. Many of them were from foreign coun- 
triesCanada especially and there were some fine stamps 
among them; he named a few which he had seen. He had 
spoken to the lady about the matter, but he needed some- 
one with cash to back him up. Would they but of course 
they would! 

But when he returned to the house, he found that dis- 
aster had happened in his absence. Aroused by the sugges- 
tion that she had valuable stamps in her home, the lady 
decided to act for herself. A mere plasterer wouldn't know 
what he was talking about, and even if he did, he probably 
wouldn't pay her much for the stamps. So, instead of pro- 
ceeding slowly and cautiously, she just called up a dealer- 
how she obtained his name we don't know, but he's been 
dead for many years, and it doesn't matter; he hotfooted it 
up to the house, gave a hasty look, offered her fifty dollars 
for the lot, closed the deal and got the letters out of the 
house at once. She thought she had made a pretty nice 
trade until she saw the plasterer again. He had been in- 
tending to deal more fairly with her; it had never occurred 
to him that she would sell out everything for fifty dollars. 


"I could have given you that much myself, out of my 
own pocket," he told her. "You had hundreds, maybe 
thousands of dollars' worth of stamps on those letters." It 
developed that besides hundreds of stampless covers, there 
was at least one Canada twelvepence its catalogue price 
today is fifteen hundred dollars more than a hundred of 
the Canada sixpence, some hundreds of U. S. 1847*8, the 
English tuppence 1840, sometimes in strips of six, many 
old Trinidad lithographs and other things too painful to 
mention, the total value running well up into the thou- 

There was another fifty-dollar buy still earlier which 
turned out still better. The janitor of the old Mills build- 
ing at 15 Broad Street in New York told a Nassau Street 
dealer one day in the '90*8 that there was a loft in the build- 
ing where there were many old papers and envelopes with 
stamps on them. Would the dealer be willing to clean out 
the accumulation and give him, the janitor, a little tip of 
this very hesitatingly say, fifty dollars? The dealer went to 
the loft, looked for about three minutes, handed fifty dol- 
lars to the janitor and ordered a truck to move the stuff to 
a warehouse. The man who told us this story said that one 
of the partners in the stamp firm told him in 1902 that 
they had already sold $25,000 worth of stamps out of this 
lot and had enough left to keep the market interested for 
the next thirty years. Whether this is strictly true or not, the 
fact is that many thousands of dollars came from that small 
investment. This, like many other finds of those days, was 
rich in U. S. 1847*8, all on original covers, of course, and 
many other items valuable even then, but far more so now. 

There were two finds of the St. Louis postmaster stamps 
which were spectacular, each in its own way. In 1895 a 
Negro janitor named Bob in the Court House in Louisville, 


Ky., was ordered to destroy a lot of old papers which had 
been lying in a corner of the basement since before any- 
body could remember. Bob found some letters having 
queer labels on them pictures of a couple of bears holding 
up a circular sign of some sort. They didn't look like real 
stamps, but they might be foreign, for all he knew, and 
Bob was vaguely aware that there were slightly demented 
white folks who collected such things. Finally, he needed 
a little pocket money say, fo' bits for a particular pur- 
pose. He picked all of the stamps he could find from the 
waste, and not knowing how to go about marketing them, 
offered them to two white employees, the jail turnkey and 
another fellow, who, after some haggling, bought them at 
Bob's price, fifty cents. 

They in turn sold the stamps to a saloon keeper who 
was just a little smarter than they were for five dollars, 
and were jubilant over their thousand per cent profit. If 
they learned from the papers that just three of the 137 
stamps in that lot, namely, the five-, ten- and twenty-cent 
St. Louis, all on one cover, were sold not long afterward 
for $4,000, they must have had narrow escapes from apo- 
plexy. What the saloon keeper made off the deal as he 
parceled them out to stamp dealers we do not know, but 
the rumor is that he rapidly grew wiser as the deal pro- 
gressed, and before long, was sneering at offers of $500 for 
good copies of the twenty-center. C. H. Mekeel, St. Louis 
dealer, quickly heard of the find, rushed over to Louisville, 
and succeeded in buying up the whole lot. Meanwhile, 
when news of the bonanza began to drift around Louisville, 
someone claimed to remember that some of that old paper 
from the basement had been used to fill in under a new 
concrete pavement laid around the Court House not long 


before, and there were enthusiasts who wanted to tear up 
the pavement. 

There were seventy-five of the five-cent stamps in that 
lot, forty-six of the tens and sixteen of the twenty-cent. The 
integrity of the twenty-center had never been thoroughly 
established until that moment. Many copies of the five and 
ten were known, but only four copies of the twenty had 
been found, and many authorities did not believe in it. 
J. B. Moens, Belgian pundit, had declared only three years 
before, "The twenty-cents has never existed; it is a faked 
five-cents." The true story, as now known, is that the plate 
at first comprised six stamps, three fives and three tens, in 
two vertical columns. The postmaster decided that a 
twenty-cent stamp was needed, but didn't want to pay for 
a new plate. So an engraver battered up two of the fives 
from the back of the plate with a hammer, then smoothed 
the surface and engraved a "20" thereon, making a pretty 
crude job. No wonder the wiseacres distrusted it. 

The second great St. Louis find occurred in 1912, when 
an old banking concern in Philadelphia cleared out a vast 
accumulation of letters and papers going back as far as the 
eighteenth century and sold them to a junk-paper ware- 
house. Now, just across the street there was a little corner 
tobacco shop; its proprietor knew stamps and had some- 
how learned of the great accumulation of old papers in the 
banking house. He had tried to get permission to go 
through them and buy what he found valuable there, but 
in vain. Those bankers, like the old Nassau Street law firm, 
were too wise and too busy to be bothered with nuts like 
that. Years passed, and one day the tobacconist saw with 
horrified eyes a truck marked "Hemingway Paper Stock 
Company" back up to a side door and begin to load up 
with bundles of old papers. It was the noon hour; he was 


alone in the shop had no one with whom to leave the 
business if he went over there to see about the matter. 
And so finally the truck drove off, and with it a fortune. 
So limited was the vision of the little shopkeeper that it 
never occurred to him that he might just lock up the store 
and go out and get possession of that load of paper some- 
how. Had he followed the truck to the warehouse and said 
to the manager, "I'm a stamp collector, and I believe there 
are some old stamps in that stuff that I'd like to have," he 
might have bought the truckload for fifty or seventy-five 
dollars. But for fear of losing the sale of two or three cigars 
and a package of Bull Durham, he tossed away a chance to 
acquire stamps and letters which were estimated to be 
worth a hundred-thousand dollars. And we wonder what 
the bankers thought when they heard that! 

Hemingway, the paper man, was not a philatelist, and 
might have missed finding the stamps had he not noticed, 
as the paper was dumped out, some eighteenth-century 
letters which excited his curiosity. He began looking fur- 
ther, and found autograph letters of Robert Morris, An- 
thony Wayne, Benedict Arnold and other notables, account 
books of Chaloner and White, who were provisioners to 
the Continental Army, and he also found stamps such as 
he had never seen or heard of before. To shorten the story, 
there were not only many stampless covers and early United 
States stamps, but there were twenty of the twenty-cent 
St. Louis, seventy-nine of the ten-cent and six of the five- 
cent; there were a ten and a twenty together on one cover; 
a pair of the twenty, seven pairs of the ten, and three strips 
of three of the ten. 

The late Herman Toaspern, New York dealer, fondly 
remembered by collectors as "Toasty" how many remem- 
ber when Walter Winchell's column announced in 1934 


that "Herman Toaspern, famous postage-stamp expert, will 
Little-Church it with an upstate marm named Doris Bur- 
dett?" well, Toasty, as might be expected, knew better 
how to chase and throttle opportunity. A junk-paper dealer, 
one who had not studied the philatelic phase of his busi- 
ness, cleaned out the accumulation of a concern in down- 
town New York some years ago, but someone around the 
office, attracted by the appearance of an old stamp and 
knowing nothing about its value, picked it out of the mess 
and showed it to Toaspern the next time he saw him. 
Before you could say "philately," Toasty was at that com- 
pany's office, demanding the name of the paper dealer; 
thence he rushed to the Italian's little warehouse on the 
East River, and learned that those particular papers were 
in some bales which he had shipped to a paper mill at 
Ogdensburg, New York, several days before. 

Toaspern did not despair. Knowing that a freight ship- 
ment travels at a very leisurely pace, he caught the next 
train for far northern New York, carrying scarcely more 
than a toothbrush; leaped into a taxicab at the Ogdensburg 
station and authorized the driver to break the law in reach- 
ing the mill. He arrived with his heart in his mouth, and 
was enormously relieved to find the shipment in a car 
standing on a siding, not yet unloaded. The mill manager 
was not surprised at his caller's business; he had seen crazy 
stamp-hounds before. But he was a kindly soul. At Toas- 
pern's question, he casually penciled a few figures on a 

"Oh, say fifty dollars," he replied. 

Toasty handed over the money blithesomely. He found 
more than five-thousand dollars' worth of stamps in that 
batch of paper. 

Eustace Powers, another veteran New York stampist who 


died recently, once made a somewhat similar mad dash. 
One morning he received a batch of about a thousand 
stamps, all U. S. old-timers, from a man in New Orleans, 
who asked him to quote a price on them. At lunch that 
day, he heard a Nassau Street dealer remark that he had 
just received a thousand nice old stamps from New Or- 
leans. In mid-afternoon he heard of another thousand 
which had come to town. There was no dodging the fact 
that someone in New Orleans had found a gold mine and 
was sending out samples of the ore. The result was that 
that night Powers lay tossing in a sleeper berth on a train 
pounding southward. At New Orleans he found that the 
man Meyers who had sent the samples to him was a res- 
taurant keeper, and the stamps came from a friend of his 
named Bill. "BriTs got a barn full of the stuff," said Meyers. 
Sure enough, the barn was nearly full of boxes of old let- 
ters, going back to ante-stamp days. A compromise price 
of eleven-hundred dollars for the lot was finally reached, 
but the stamps panned out several times that much. 

Attorney Harold D. Watson can make one's mouth 
water with stories of the finds that were possible forty or 
fifty years ago, when there were hundreds of old offices in 
our larger cities still unransacked by the collecting horde. 
Already a collector of long standing, when he became a 
clerk in a law office in 1893, Mr. Watson says, "the really 
bright days began." He had an eye on every old law office 
in New York, many people gave him tips, and when old 
papers were cleared away, he was right on the spot. He 
recalls finding three $200 revenue stamps in one box of 
letters and documents. When the City Court was moved 
from one building to another about 1896, the clerk who 
was ordered to cull out and destroy old papers agreed, 
for a modest sum, to save the stamps for the fledgling 


lawyer. He got two suit-cases full from that lot, and was 
always "doing a land-office business in disposing of the 

One morning in 1894, wnen ne was m l aw school, he 
was passing the office door of Hamilton Odell, a famous 
old lawyer and referee, and saw several big hampers of old 
papers in the hall. "Now, listen!" he said to the janitor 
who was about to move them, "there's a landing up on 
those stairs to the roof that nobody uses. What about 
pouring all this stuff out there? Fve got to go through it. 
I'll give you three dollars and put the paper back in the 

"Don't bother puttin' it back," grinned the man. "For 
three dollars I'd murder me grandmother. Jist lave it on 
the flure." If he had had any idea of the values that the 
youngster was to find in that trash the 1847*8, the 1851*8, 
the New York postmasters and other fine items he might 
have asked more than three dollars and the refilling of the 
baskets. Young Watson missed all his classes in law school 
that day, but the haul was worth it. 

In those days, too, small-town and village post offices 
had many out-of-date stamps in their stocks which were 
treasures to the collector. Along in the '90*5 R. R. Bogert 
sent a dollar each at one time and another to some hun- 
dreds of postmasters asking each to send in return a sample 
of every stamp he had on hand. Frequently, samples worth 
considerably more than face value would come back, and 
then Bogert would buy all the postmaster had of that item. 
As an instance, he found in one office a two-cent newspaper 
wrapper of a certain die which was currently worth ten 
dollars, and was able to buy a hundred more of them; a 
thousand dollars' worth for two dollars! 

Newbold, the stamp hunter mentioned in an earlier 


chapter, while touring the country "selling furs," always 
canvassed the post offices. At one place a crabbed old post- 
master grumblingly revealed to his astonished eyes the 
gorgeous 1869 series, up to and including the thirty-cent; 
one version has it that even the ninety-cent was there, 
though some cynics consider this improbable. Newbold 
forgot for a moment that he was in a post office and not a 
stamp shop. 

"What'll you take for them?" he asked. 

The old man glared in amazement. "Face value, of 
course!" he barked. "Don't think I'm goin' to sell 'em at 
a discount, do ye, jest because they're a few years old?" 

Newbold humbly bought all he had. 

There was an occasional country postmaster in those 
days who didn't know the rules, and was a great help to 
collectors. Those big, beautiful newspaper and periodical 
stamps of 1875-95, theoretically, no collector could own 
in mint condition, because their sale to persons other than 
publishers for use on shipments was sternly forbidden. But 
this writer can testify, and has the stamps to prove it, that 
in his early youth, a post-office clerk once sold him a set of 
them, going as high as he had money to pay for. Nor are 
postage-due stamps supposed to appear in albums in un- 
used condition, for they are not to be sold to the public at 
all; and yet quantities of them have been bought in minor 
post offices not so very long ago. A collector in 1897 re ~ 
ported buying postage-dues at a hamlet in Washington 
"with four houses and fourteen population," and as he 
was turning away, the postmaster said, "Say, I've got some 
other stamps here maybe you'd like. They've got a Siwash 
on 'em, and they're different from anything I ever see"; 
and with that, he brought forth the big periodicals. The 
absurdity of stocking such an office with these stamps need 


not be dwelt upon. The collector bought all of them that 
he had money to pay for, and said he wished he could 
buy more. 

"Take all you want/' said the postmaster. "I'll trust you 
for 'em." Another village postmaster, at the instance of a 
collector, sent a large order in to Washington for periodi- 
cals, including some high values, and when the Depart- 
ment wrote back, inquiring what he wanted with such big 
stamps, he learned for the first time of the rules regarding 
them. Ah, well; we shall never see days like those again. 

Harry M. Konwiser told us the curious story of a stamp 
find which he had from a dealer in Newark, New Jersey, 
who played the part of the doormat in the episode. "Some- 
where in this country," said the dealer, "there is a chap 
who owns a sheet of the City and Suburban Telegraph 
stamps which were actually kidded away from me. You 
know the item; little oval design, issued in the 'yo's. There 
were one-, two- and three-cent denominations, and they 
are priced today at from forty to seventy-five dollars each, 
or a hundred and sixty-five for the three singles. The stamps 
were lithographed in sheets of sixty, imperforate, in six 
vertical rows of ten each, in this order; two-cent, one-cent, 
one-cent, two-cent, three-cent." 

He went on to say that one day in 1919 two boys came 
into his shop with a sheet of stamps which they had found 
on a city trash dump on the "meadows" the great tidal 
marshes lying between Newark and Jersey City. The sheet 
was a bit soiled, but only slightly rumpled from its rough 
experience in an ash wagon. The dealer looked at it and 
decided that it was a reprint. But just because some people 
will buy reprints, he offered the boys fifty cents for it, 
which they seemed to think quite adequate. 

A customer who was in the shop at the time began to 


chaff the dealer for having given even fifty cents for the 
thing. At this moment a Newark attorney and collector 
entered, looked at the sheet, agreed with the dealer that 
it was a reprint, but said he was willing to pay a half dollar 
for it, just as a curiosity, and rescue the dealer from his 
bad trade. Influenced by his friend's ridicule, the dealer 
accepted the offer. 

A few days later a collector browsing in the shop re- 
marked to the merchant, "Mr. Replevin" as we may call 
the lawyer "won't be in to see you in quite some time, I 

"Why not?" 

"Because that sheet of telegraph stamps you sold him 
for half a dollar is in an auctioneer's hands in New York 
now, and it'll be on sale soon." 

Sure enough, a few weeks later, a sheet like that was auc- 
tioned at $925. The dealer called at the attorney's office, 
but received only evasive answers. He engaged a lawyer of 
his own, who threatened suit, and who learned that the 
sheet had been sold ostensibly as the property of another 
collector who acted as the other attorney's dummy; that 
the lawyer himself had actually received the check for $925 
less commission. The dealer was bent on testing his rights 
in the courts, but that was very shortly after the World 
War, both he and the attorney were of German ancestry 
and members of the same German club, and other club 
members advised him to forget the matter, as Germans 
were too unpopular at the moment to start airing their 
troubles in public. 

A few years ago, the Bank for Savings in New York was 
gathering up some old papers and sending them to a stor- 
age house. A Holmes guard had been engaged to watch 
the job; and here is an instance of the universality, the 


democracy of stamp collecting. That guard was a collector, 
and as the papers were handled, his eyes followed longingly 
the occasional old stamp which he saw on letters and docu- 
ments. Suddenly he sighted two which he could not let 
pass. They bore stamps of the United States City Despatch 
Post, a semi-official local letter delivery concern which 
operated in conjunction with the New York post office 
before government delivery of letters began, and which 
issued the first adhesive stamps in the western hemisphere. 
The letters were addressed to the elegant Philip Hone, 
once mayor of New York, and president of the Bank for 
Savings in the 1840*8. The guard took them to the present 
head of the bank and said, "May I have these?" 

The president found it difficult to answer. "These of 
course are just the sort of things we should like to keep 
ourselves," said he. But after a moment's thought, "Here's 
what we'll do; we'll keep one and give you the other, for 
calling it to our attention. How's that?" 

The guard thought it was not so bad, considering . . . 
The letter he got was really a circular, soliciting business 
from Hone for the Despatch, remarking that "The Pro- 
prietors are fully impressed with the conviction that punc- 
tuality alone can secure confidence, if their arrangements 
are such as to place it beyond doubt." It was mailed within 
a month after the first issuance of that first adhesive stamp 
on the continent, and it would probably have been lost to 
philately if a Holmes guard had not been a stamp collector. 
The letter is now in the collection of Walter P. Chrysler, 


There are many other stories that might be told; one, 
for example, of the rumor of a batch of New York post- 
master stamps in Beacon, New York, up the Hudson 
among the mountains; but in what or whose house? One 


New York dealer went up there and searched the town, as 
he thought, but couldn't find them, and another later 
went up and discovered them in the back of an old desk. 
Some philatelists say, with the old western prospectors, 
"Stamps are where you find 'em," meaning in reverse that 
they're not always where you expect to find them. Harry 
Konwiser, for example, had the perfectly sound and logical 
notion that the basement of that big old red-brick head- 
quarters of the American Bible Society in New York, 
erected in 1853, ought to be simply another Golconda for 
stamps. The Society had existed nearly forty years before 
that, and probably brought its older records over to the new 
building when it was put into use. There should be Hawai- 
ian missionary stamps there by the dozen. So Mr. Konwiser 
procured permission, went down there and toiled in that 
gloomy vault for days on end, swallowed enough dust to 
replace all that blown off the Dust Bowl, and found noth- 
ing of consequence. Somebody had perhaps been there 
before him; and furthermore, it appeared that those par- 
simonious missionaries in Hawaii had deadheaded all their 
letters to the Society by the hands of kindly ship captains. 
Elliott Perry, who claims to be the unluckiest fellow 
alive, once went from New York down to Salisbury, North 
Carolina, to search the attic of the former home of an old 
newspaper editor and publisher and Confederate soldier, 
which was reported to be rich in treasure. The house was 
then inhabited by the sister of the departed editor, and 
when Perry and his guide entered, the first thing they saw 
in the hall was a portrait of the brother in uniform on an 
easel draped with the Confederate flag and bearing the 
legend, "Lest We Forget." Mr. Perry, being from Massa- 
chusetts, was of course to the old lady who was totally 
and acidly unreconstructed a damyankee of the lowest 


type; and when he had sweated through several broiling 
summer days in that attic without finding anything, she 
was probably of opinion that he got just what was coming 
to him. Worse still, Elliott once went all the way to Cali- 
fornia in behalf of Senator Ackerman, on a hot tip that an 
old mining company office should be full of Gold Rush 
gems, but again found nothing. 

But there are horror stories worse than these. Many of 
them used to be told back in the 'QO'S. There was the one 
about the young amateur collector who procured the privi- 
lege of going through some old letters, with results only 
so-so. There was one item which should have been a good 
one a ten-cent U. S. 1847; ^ u ^ * ^ s disgust, the sender 
of the letter had cut it in two diagonally why, he couldn't 
imagine and stuck it on that way. He left it as it was; but 
a few days later he discovered from a catalogue that a stamp 
cut like that was a legitimate and valuable item, priced at 
forty dollars. He rushed back to the house, but found that 
the lady who owned the old letters, her interest stirred by 
his search, had decided to collect stamps herself, had soaked 
that split ten-center off the envelope to mount in her 
album, and burned the envelope! 

Another story current fifty years ago was that of a New 
Englander, not a collector, who heard for the first time of 
those Brattleboro provisional stamps and their value to 
collectors. Then he remembered that his wife had been a 
Brattleboro girl and he had been courting her around 1845. 
. . . He hurried to an old trunk in a closet, where he still 
kept her love letters. Sure enough, no less than twenty of 
them carried the Brattleboro stamp. Why, here was riches! 
He took them downstairs, letters and all, and put them on 
the sitting-room mantel while he went out to the barn and 
woodshed to do some chores. When he came back, he 


would remove the letters from the covers, he and his wife 
would have a good laugh over them, and then he would 
take the envelopes down town and mail them to Boston, 
and receive a check for, maybe, two thousand dollars. 

But while he was in the back yard, his wife came in 
from a neighbor's house, found the letters on the mantel 
and began looking over them; and as she did so, she began 
to blush. Nobody could have made her believe that she 
had ever been so silly. Why, these things were just mush! 
She couldn't conceive why her husband had brought them 
downstairs, but there was one thing certain; she wasn't go- 
ing to let him read them aloud and make fun of her about 
them. So she just gathered them up, envelopes and all, and 
laid them on the coals in the grate. What her husband said 
when he came in from the woodshed is not recorded. 


IT WAS in 1800 that the word 
.- ,9 
commemorative appeared 
* * 
in postal service. In that year 

Great Britain issued a stamp to mark the fiftieth anniversary 
of penny postage. Since that time, "commemorative" has 
covered a prodigious deal of governmental Woolworthing; 
and some countries go ever farther and make a racket of it. 
The increasingly gorgeous pictorial stamps which have been 
pouring forth in an increasing flood during the present 
century for a long time posed as commemoratives, but 
many of them have long since ceased to make even that 
pretense, and have become just little pictures sold at any- 
where from fifteen thousand to seventy thousand per cent 
profit. And yet they have their uses, and they give pleasure 
to many people. 

Remember that although most of the early stamps car- 
ried portraits or mere conventional or heraldic designs, 
there were pictorials as early as 1850 though with never 
an idea of selling them to collectors, because there weren't 
any collectors. The crudely engraved New South Wales 
series of that year, now among the dearest of treasures to 
many a collector's heart under the name of "Sydney 
Views," carried pictures which a critic of later years de- 
scribed as "three houses in a row, and four people in the 



foreground sitting for their photographs, one of them 
plainly suffering from colic." 

A few other countries used pictures ships, scenery, a 
locomotive or two, the animals and fish of Canada and 
Newfoundland in the next two decades, but not until 
1869 did the United States go on a little spree into pic- 
torials; and it is only necessary to read the newspapers to 
learn how undignified, even rough a proceeding this was 
considered to be. These stamps were of novel shape square 
some of them printed in two colors, an unheard-of thing 
in this country and only three out of ten had portraits of 
our great men on them, as old precedent decreed which 
rubbed the fur of not a few conservative editors and citi- 
zens the wrong way; they saw no reason for change. Of the 
three-cent blue with a locomotive on it, editors declared 
that it was neither historical, national nor beautiful, and 
only showed that some engraver had got a good contract. 
One editor was of opinion that the railway scene was a 
delicate hint as to "how some Congressmen make their 
money." "Let the Post Office folks give us back our old 
head of Washington," was a typical demand. Even the 
American Journal of Philately declared that the shield and 
flags on the thirty-cent blue and carmine was "the meanest 
looking stamp we have ever seen, reminds us more of a 
bunch of rags hung out of a junk store than anything else." 

The three-center, being the one most commonly used 
for postage, came in for the worst slamming: "The present 
miserable experiment in blue," the New York Herald 
called it. Editor Bennett went on: 

It is about time that some definite form and design 
of postage stamp should be adopted, so that people 
may know to a certainty what mucilaged square of 


paper will carry a letter to its destination and what will 
not. . . . Can it be that the spirit of jobbery so pre- 
vails in our Post Office Department that we must have 
a new design every six months or thereabouts? 

"Every six months" was just literary license, for we 
hadn't had a really new stamp design in seven years; not 
since that oversize Jackson head of 1862. The criticism was 
so bitter, however, that not for twenty-four years thereafter 
did the government venture to depict anything but de- 
ceased political and military heroes on our stamps; an in- 
teresting commentary on the change that has taken place in 
our attitude. No doubt there were many young collectors 
then who would have been glad to have new and colorful 
issues, but the government just couldn't afford to flout the 
higher strata of public opinion. 

But in the meantime other countries, not to mention 
the engravers and lithographers, had discovered the phi- 
latelist, and were not only beginning to issue new stamps 
more and more frequently, but were obligingly reprinting 
old ones for his benefit. As early as 1862 an engraver adver- 
tised in the Stamp Collector's Magazine of London: 

NICARAGUAN STAMP. Will be ready in a week. A 
beautiful proof of the Nicaraguan stamp (equal to the 
original) will be sent for 13 postage stamps. Only 75 
proofs of this will be taken; each proof will be num- 
bered, and then the block burnt. An early application 
is really necessary, 25 copies being already sold. 

Publicists even then were prompt in pointing out that 
such proofs were little better than forgeries; that once in 
the hands of a collector, there was nothing to prevent his 
palming them off as stamps which had actually been sold 


through a post-office window, but never stuck on a letter. 
Non-collectors were unable to understand the delicate dis- 
tinction propounded, and sneered at it, as they do yet. 

Thereafter, small governments began reprinting obsolete 
issues of stamps from old plates, and when a new issue was 
designed, selling the remainders sometimes large of the 
old issues as unused specimens. When a Central or South 
American government was overthrown, as happened fre- 
quently, new stamps were of course called for, and the 
remainder of the old stock was thrown on the philatelic 
market. Not only that, but some governments became so 
depraved that they engraved new dies of their old series, 
if the old dies had been lost. The first stamp of the Fiji 
Islands, printed in a newspaper office and frankly bearing 
its name, "Fiji Times Express," was twice thereafter re- 
printed from type similarly set. This is the sort of thing 
that governments used to call "official imitation," "re- 
prints," or "proofs"; but honest philatelists called them 
little better than counterfeits. Jassy, Roumania, was one 
of the most barefaced centers of such forgery. Officials 
there, finding a good market for the rare first Roumanian 
issue of July, 1858, obligingly produced at different times 
three imitations all varying in slight degree of the 54, 
81, and 108 paras, which they sold as genuine. Many had 
been sold before the fraud was discovered and advertised 
in the iSyc/s. 

A collector, writing to the American Journal of Philately 
in 1868, said that of an order of forty stamps just received 
from a dealer, twenty-three were facsimiles or proofs a sad 
commentary on the state of the market at that time. In 
1875 the American Journal of Philately published its "Roll 
of Dishonor": 


Moldavia counterfeited the first two issues of its 
postage stamps to swindle collectors. 

Hanover reprinted its stamps to turn an honest 

Prussia reprinted its first issue, and probably real- 
ized the magnificent sum of ten dollars by the opera- 

Spain cancelled the old stock of stamps remaining 
on hand, and did a thriving business, peddling them 
out to collectors. 

But in that same year the United States announced that 
it was prepared to supply at face value "specimens of all 
its obsolete issues of adhesive stamps." To accomplish this, 
it had to engrave new dies for the two stamps of 1847. The 
difference between impressions from these plates and the 
original could be detected, however, and there is no chance 
today of selling one of the reprints to a well-informed and 
watchful collector. 

The New York Philatelic Society, as soon as the an- 
nouncement was made, rushed into print with a resolution 
strongly protesting such action as tending to throw dis- 
credit upon collections already formed, and destroying the 
interest of real collectors in the hobby all of which is as 
true today as it was then. 

Editor Godkin of the New York Evening Post jeered at 
the Society in his accustomed pontifical way, pointing out 
what he considered the inconsistency of collectors, in that 
"When the Society can get the stamps, it says that they 
are bad." His opinion was that the collector only wanted a 
difficult chase through "the dim recesses of the Bowery 
... in dusky corners of Myrtle Avenue in Brooklyn . . . 


up mysterious flights of stairs in Nassau Street." He there- 
fore believed that if, instead of selling them openly, the 
government would hide the reprinted stamps in Arizona 
and Maine, distribute them among "indigent Chinamen 
in San Francisco and small shopkeepers in Keokuk and 
Galveston and Kalamazoo," the collectors would "search 
for them with zealous interest." Well, one must admit 
that he had something there. . . . 

The United States Post Office Department placed an 
exhibit in the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876, 
of which the editor of the American Journal of Philately 

I am almost tempted to pass over it in silence, as it 
is a disgrace to the country, but as it is my duty to 
prevent collectors from being deceived, I will point 
out a few of the mistakes, as we must call them; a 
complete set of the adhesives is shown, the same as 
the Department has been passing off on country school 
boys as stamps; of course they have a right to show 
any rubbish they wish, but they should not label a 
page of counterfeit stamps, made a year or so ago, 
"Engraved and printed by Rawdon, Wright and Ed- 
son," because it is well known that the firm was dis- 
solved about twenty years ago, and we believe all the 
members of it are dead, but I suppose the department 
intended to tell us that the original stamps were en- 
graved by that firm. . . . The makers of the 1851 issue 
are given as Toppan, Carpenter, Casilear & Co.; of 
the 1869 issue, the National Bank Note Co.; of the 
1870 issue, the Continental Bank Note Co. The De- 
partment stamps are all shown in proof specimens, the 
colors of which only approximate those in use. 


Some of the stories from Latin America in those years 
are delightful. In 1877 there was a postmaster-general of 
Honduras named Toledo, who had a brother who had held 
the same job in Guatemala for several years, and the two 
made a nice business of selling remainders. The Honduran 
Toledo sent his brother to New York to order some new 
stamps from the National Bank Note Company, the one- 
half-, one-, two- and four-reals and the one-peso being the 
denominations needed. But upon making inquiries among 
dealers as to the denominations most popular, he found 
that one and two centavos would sell well to collectors, so 
he added those to the order. A million stamps were ordered, 
and 200,000 were sent at once to the Honduran consul's 
office on Broadway, where they were placed on sale to 
dealers in lots at prices to suit, and no reasonable offer re- 
fused if the order was large enough. As Honduras had 
only 40,000 population then and most of them unable to 
write, it was clear that it would have difficulty in absorbing 
the remaining 800,000 stamps, so they were boxed and 
shipped in four lots to R. Toledo at London, Hamburg, 
Paris and Berlin. There, safe from any revolutionary dis- 
order which might break out at home, Mr. Toledo's agents 
could dispose of them at figures which indicated nice 

In 1879 Gus B. Caiman of New York bought a large 
quantity of this or another printing from Toledo, and be- 
gan selling them in Europe and America. He was soon 
joined by his brother Henry, and thus a business in "re- 
mainders" was begun whose repercussions are felt to this 
day. These were the brothers who bought out J. W. Scott 
in 1886 and organized the Scott Stamp & Coin Company. 
Gus died in 1898 and in 1901 Henry sold the company to 


other interests. But before proceeding further with their 
story, it is necessary to mention N. F. Seebeck. 

This gentleman first appears as a stamp dealer in New 
York before 1880; but the goings-on in Central America 
and elsewhere presently convinced him that he was wasting 
his time, so he went into the manufacture of stamps on a 
big scale, with the proviso that he was to have all the 
"remainders" to sell on his own account. The Philatelic 
Journal of America said of him in June, 1889: 

Mr. N. F. Seebeck, an old-time stamp speculator, 
is the secretary of the Hamilton Bank Note Company, 
and must thoroughly understand this business, as he 
made stamps for Dominica (sic) Republic and Boli- 
var, and understands the use of the cancelling stamp, 
as the many fraudulently cancelled specimens of these 
stamps to be found in the market and in the albums 
of unsuspecting collectors will show. 

''History repeats itself," so collectors will be looking 
for a nice, big series of Salvador stamps on white, blue 
and various colored papers; with and without network, 
imperforated, perforated and rouletted, and possibly a 
nice crop of surcharges in all the latest styles of type; 
an "error" or two may also turn up. 

Postal cards will no doubt be furnished to suit the 
various hues of complection to be found among the 
inhabitants, and several modes of folding will be in- 

Altogether, not over a hundred varieties are likely to 
be added each year for Salvador, but to those who 
deplore this fact, we can offer the consoling informa- 
tion that a similar contract has just been made with 
the governments of Honduras and Costa Rica. 


The jeer at the Dominican Republic referred to the fact 
that the issues of 1879-80-81 of that country were pro- 
duced and canceled by thousands in New York City with- 
out ever seeing their alleged native land. Other countries 
whose stamps would be canceled to your order in those 
years were those of Labuan, North Borneo, Bolivar 1879- 
91; the Liberia picture issues, Spanish colonials, and others. 
In 1899 it was said that there were more canceled Labuans 
on dealers' approval sheets than the small post-office force 
of Labuan could cancel in a lifetime. 

Mr. Seebeck, too, would obligingly cancel whole sheets 
of several countries for anybody, for he always had plenty 
of them on hand. The contracts which he began making in 
1889 with Latin-American countries specified that he was 
to supply each with an entire new series of stamps every 
year. At the end of each year the current issue was to be 
demonetized and all the remainders returned to Seebeck 
and he always saw to it that there were plenty of them. He 
was to retain the plates of all issues. 

His first contract was with Salvador, and at the end of 
the first year, 445,000 of the one-centavo and 504,000 of 
the twos of that country were returned to him. Meanwhile, 
he had made contracts with other neighboring nations; 
Honduras and Nicaragua in 1890, Ecuador in 1892. It is 
known that his Nicaragua contract gave him the right to 
make reprints if he hadn't enough remainders to satisfy 
the market, and such were made of the Nicaragua 1896-97- 
98 postage, postage-due and official stamps. It is suspected 
that he made reprints of some of the other countries, too. 
The postage-due Nicaragua stamps of 1901 were surcharged 
"Correos 1901." In 1904 an imitation of this surcharge 
was made in black to fill a dealer's order. It was also later 
made in blue. None of these stamps was ever regularly 


used. There were several "errors of color" in the 1903-4 
issue which never passed through a post-office window; just 
sample sheets sold by a high post-office official to dealers. 
The "essays" are as the sands of the sea. Most surcharges 
have variations in spelling, italics "accidentally" used, and 
so on. Of the official stamps of 1900-02, surcharged in 
1903, the catalogues say, "It is doubtful if any of them ever 
saw Nicaragua." 

The result has been that to this day the unused stamps 
of those countries, jeeringly known as "Seebecks," are 
under suspicion, and some collectors will not touch them. 
The Seebeck orgy greatly advanced the tendency to collect 
used stamps only on covers; and today your really con- 
scientious collector can look kindly upon such a stamp 
only when it is on an envelope and bearing the marks of 
having been actually sent through the mails and even 
then he is apt to be suspicious. 

All this brought about the organization by British phi- 
latelists in the 1890*8 of the Society for the Suppression of 
Speculative Stamps which, by the way, the English slur- 
ringly called "gumpaps." J. W. Scott organized a similar 
society in this country; his nickname for it was the Amer- 
ican Society for the Suppression of Vice. It issued a circu- 
lar to the Latin-American countries in 1896, as a result of 
which Ecuador, much perturbed, canceled its contract with 
Seebeck in 1896, "in consideration of the disrepute into 
which it had brought the postal administration of that 
country." Scott said that this action should "start a boom" 
in the stamps of Ecuador, if only in appreciation of the 
action of the officials. But as may be conjectured, the SSSS 
on both sides of the water died long ago, drowned in the 
rising flood of commemoratives; for there were too many 
young, amoral collectors who cared only for the pretty 


stamps, and little whether they had ever been used for 
postal purposes. 

Early in the '90*8, Gus Caiman made a contract to buy 
from Seebeck all his remainders of the four countries. Gus 
was the largest buyer in the United States of remainders. 
Among other things, he bought from Guatemala all the 
quetzal issues of 1879-81 and the Barrios issue of '86. After 
his death his brother Henry took over the contract with 
Seebeck, and when Seebeck died about 1900, Henry bought 
everything that was left from his executors. He then had 
about ninety million unused Central and South American 
and West Indian stamps. In 1924 he still had huge num- 
bers of the Seebecks left some sixty million, said the 
American Philatelist. A little later, when the number had 
been reduced to fifty-five million, it was reported that they 
had been sold to a dealer in Lucerne. 

J. E. Handshaw, the veteran dealer whose autobiography 
has already been mentioned, was a large dealer in remain- 
ders. In 1895 he bought more than a million mint Cubans, 
all demonetized, in sheets of one hundred, which made a 
pile six feet high, and they cost him only eleven-hundred 
dollars. He admits that they were not popular with dealers, 
or collectors, "However, I sold a great many of them and 
also traded many at fair prices." F. H. Pinkham of New- 
market, N. H., publisher of the Eastern Philatelist, bought 
a quantity of them to use as premiums with subscriptions. 
About 1905 Handshaw bought 100,000 Bolivars in sheets 
from Henry Caiman for $5,000, and from a South Ameri- 
can got half a million Argentine, Paraguay, Bolivia, Chile, 
Peru, etc., for $4,000. The S. H. Bixby Co., makers of shoe 
blacking, used Seebecks for some time as premiums but, 
deciding to end the practice, Handshaw bought what they 
had left. Later he picked up a million Seebeck "errors" 


Cariboo Express, 

From the Collection of Alfred Lichtenstein 



A mining town post office in gold-rush days. 


from Caiman, a million more from a Philadelphia dealer, 
and a hundred-thousand sets of the two-colored stamps of 
the Dominican Republic in sheets. 

Seebeck was not the only racketeer; there was C. H. 
Mekeel of St. Louis, who swung a somewhat similar deal 
with Mexico. These men maintained that the influence of 
such promotions was wholesome and brought in many 
new collectors. Scott and the antis were certain that it 
was killing philately. The promoters retorted that it was 
the antis who were doing the killing. "Frighten off the 
young collector," said Gus Caiman virtuously, "and what 
will become of the future of philately?" Even today there 
are defenders of Seebeck who claim that he created thou- 
sands of new collectors by placing those myriads of pretty 
new stamps within their reach at ridiculously low prices. 
If that be true, can it be possible that the governmental 
Woolworths of today are performing a similar service? 

Honduras bought so enormously of Seebecks that it can- 
celed its contract with him in 1895 an( ^ so ^ ew were usec ^ 
for postal purposes that it was never necessary to reprint 
any of the issues, and remainders of those printings are still 
to be had at modest prices. Ecuador, on the other hand, 
didn't have enough, and had to reprint again and again for 
philatelists. Salvador, meanwhile, was keeping up with the 
Joneses, and by 1904 had issued 404 stamps. As a striking 
contrast, the plate made by Perkins-Bacon, the great British 
engravers, for St. Helena in 1856 was the only one from 
which all stamps of that colony were printed for thirty- 
four years. Different values were produced by surcharging. 
A new plate was finally made in 1890. St. Lucia was almost 
as economical. Surcharges, by the way, seemed to have 
become a governmental racket in the latter '8o's. American 
editors claimed that Cochin-China, Gabon, Nossi-Be and 


other colonies "swindled collectors outrageously" with 

Another would-be racketeer was A. N. Ridgley, a former 
skating-rink operator in Australia, who actually closed a 
deal in 1887 with the Hawaiian postmaster-general, whereby 
the latter was to supply him with 200,000 canceled stamps 
in eighteen-, twenty-five- and fifty-cent and one-dollar de- 
nominations for $2,000 or one cent per stamp. As they 
cost the government less than a hundredth of a cent apiece 
and were not used for postal purposes, the only labor in- 
volved being in canceling them, the post office seemed due 
to make a nice profit. But some suspicion arose in high 
places, everybody became nervous, and the deal was finally 
abrogated. It was said, however, that $1,465 worth (face 
value) of the stamps was bought by one of the postal clerks 
for twenty-five dollars, and $545 worth by another clerk 
for ten dollars. 

There were royal racketeers in those days. In 1892 Por- 
tugal issued a new set of sixteen stamps for herself, and 
sixteen values for each of her colonies, some of the values 
having five deliberate varieties. Peter Karageorgevich, after 
assassinating King Alexander of Serbia in 1903 and making 
himself king, forbade the use of stamps bearing Alexander's 
portrait, and issued a set of provisional until new stamps 
carrying his own portrait could be prepared. Ninety per 
cent of the provisional were bought by collectors, and 
Peter raised a nice sum with which to pay off his debts and 
start his reign. The Sultan of Brunei was another monarch 
who saw the light. Deciding in 1894 that his country 
needed a postal service, he made a deal with his friend, an 
adventurer named Robertson, by which Robertson and 
partners were empowered to print stamps to the value of 
$5,000, "for which His Highness shall not be required to 


make any payment in return." Thereafter, His Highness 
was to pay $3,000 for every $5,000 worth of stamps, it be- 
ing expected that the collector demand would be lessened. 
Only the Brunei Government was to sell the stamps in the 
country, only Robertson and partners outside. 

The little pocket republic of San Marino has for nearly 
half a century been one of the most notorious of the racke- 
teers. Having few sources of revenue, it used to sell titles 
of nobility at reasonable rates; then the rise of philately 
gave it a new idea. It affected worry in 1894 lest its postal 
issues become subjects for speculation. In announcing a 
special issue to commemorate something or other, its offi- 
cials set forth that "in order that collectors, speculators 
and merchants shall not make the issue rare or scarce," 
they would supply collectors themselves. "From the fac- 
tory to you," as it were. This was the first national phil- 
atelic agency, a sort of bureau which today is found in a 
number of countries, including the United States. 

Orders to the amount of not less than ten dollars, San 
Marino advertised, would be promptly executed; and to 
every customer ordering a hundred dollars' worth, his 
stamps would be posted in a special five-lire envelope of 
which only 2,000 copies would be made, and which, in 
order to be valid, must bear the San Marino postmark. 
Here, more than forty years ago, are some of the outstand- 
ing features of governmental merchandising today the 
national sales agency, the commemorative issue, the de- 
liberately scarce article. If the 2,000 lots had been sold, the 
state would have collected $200,000. The sale fell far short 
of that, but enough cash was realized to build a new sew- 
age system in the capital. 

Meanwhile the nation was coining money, purely "play- 
like" money to sell to collectors, for it never circulated, 


Italian money being used exclusively in the country. In 
1899, Government had another brilliant thought; there 
most be two lands of stamps one for postage to and from 
other countries, the other for internal use. As San Marino 
has only some thirty-odd square miles of territory, and a 
good walker can traverse the length of it in three hours, it 
may be imagined that not many of these are ever put into 
actual service; most of them go into collectors' albums. 
Even the Encyclopaedia Britannka remarks that San 
Marino "makes a considerable income" off its postage 
stamps, and "finds a fruitful source of revenue in the fre- 
quent changes. . . . The only exports beside postage 
stamps are stone from Mount Tttano . . . and the strong 
wine grown on this volcanic soil." Since 1918 it has aver- 
aged one new stamp issue almost every year, and sometimes 
more than one a year. Its greatest difficulty is in finding 
subjects to cuiiiiiicinorale. But much bigger countries than 
San Marino are now wrestling with the same problem. 

The United States was catching the infection about the 
same time. When we issued our series of sixteen gay pic- 
torial stamps in 1893, commemorating the four-hundredth 
anniversary of Columbia's landing, conservatives thought 
it a latter vulgar theatrical-posterlike gesture. Senator Wol- 
cott of Colorado, ridiculing their large size, said they would 
make good chest protectors. Some demanded to be told 
what need we bad for a five-dollar stamp; suspicion that 
they were printed to sell to collectors began to rear its 
head, and die iniquity of selling for one, two or five dollars 
a tiny piece of paper which cost from six to nine cents per 
thousand to manufacture and which performed no postal 
service was dwelt upon. But the public liked the pretty 
pictures, and $35,000 worth of them were sold from the 


to\m rl lli n. r __ f1_ 

*- - ii_. _ 
tact tnat w 

Zam. A*1^M iji. 

Mil /\mcns ** I 

rung of her postage had factored nothing OB her stamps 
but the head of Mercury. 

' x * 


Hi ^jp^y ii i ii> ^ruetuCT to 
as worthy a face in one's coDectiOD is whether the event 

AMM!! A*1 iTi l^aiTMi ir ftf . ..ITj-^rMi I m^4MMlv**lA t-j. ^ !. i ". 

IvIia'Tvfl LOdtOV IS sJT jTlliBTffair ID3EDBDIQC TO vWu3Dt US 


himself, the writer flfif.Mfdi that the Olympic 
It is difficult today to conceive of such 

Ann MJT^ IB 180/7 came the first chantv stami> that of 
New South Wales, a ooepence to be sold at a shilling, or 
twelve times its face value, and a 2}d, to he sold at zs6d, 
the profits to be used in erecting a tuberculosis hospital. 
They were four times the size of the current postage 
stamps, and the penny value, as the Australian PUbfcCit 

A rl JM >! iln* ttm Z\i r il C*. M ^l^H*^^^k] 

x ^ - - . . ^ v >^ - ^ - 

111 BT 7 r^ 

being mff^^Hp^l by an angeL" Some Ai 

seemed to tn^nfe it was the stamp coflectors of the wood 
who were being snckered. The profits were about Si ^ooo^ 
which wxxild erect a considerable building in those days. 
'The worst of it is," said one writer, "this wiD encourage 
others to do likewise ; and it did. 

When Newfoundland in 1897 issued a s 61 ^ 65 f fourteen 
pictorial stamps, publicizing its industries, its sea and river 
fishing, its caribou and ptarmigan shooting. United States 
critics thought such baDyhoo a most indelicate 
But our own government, stirred by Ac taste of lucre ft 


the Columbian series, was already planning another for 
the Omaha Trans-Mississippi Exposition year, 1898. Upon 
hearing of this, editors and writers fumed with horror, and 
several sent letters of protest to the Postmaster-General. 
Filatelic Facts and Fallacies of San Francisco said: 

Where is the dignity of this great country going to 
when the postmaster-general can lend the help of his 
department to such a scheme? After this, we shall not 
wonder at all if the enterprising managers of any 
county fair apply to the post-office department for the 
issue of a new set of stamps, bringing forth the beau- 
ties and attractions of Backwoods County. 

At first the Postmaster-General planned only five values- 
one-, two-, five- and ten-cents and one-dollar; but the idea 
grew on him, and he added a four-, an eight-, then a fifty- 
cents and a two-dollar; "putting it beyond the reach of the 
young collector and many others," raged the critics. "A 
contemptible scheme," and "A spurious set" were some of 
the names for it. One article was headed, "A Speculative 

Thereafter it became a practice to issue new stamps for 
each exposition and on other occasions as well. Buffalo 
in 1901 brought the Pan-American two-color series, with 
three inverts. Meanwhile other countries were taking 
to the charity surtax idea like ducks to water. When the 
great Baltimore fire occurred in 1904 it was rumored that 
this country would issue a two-cent relief commemorative, 
to be sold at five cents for the benefit of the Baltimore city 
government; whereupon an assistant postmaster-general 
characterized the report as ridiculous. "This Department," 
said he, "is not in the business for its money-making possi- 
bilities." Ponder that, in the light of later developments. 


And so the great commemorative flood began and con- 
tinues to this day, rising higher and higher each year to 
marks never before reached. Now only a few self-respecting 
Ararats such as Norway and Sweden still rear their snow- 
crowned heads above the waters. John N. Luff, in the Col- 
lectors Club Philatelist in 1922 wrote that "the prospect is 
favorable for a decrease in the output. . . . We appear 
to have passed the height of the flood and to be slowly 
returning to normal conditions." Little did he know! An 
indignant writer in Mekeel's Weekly Stamp News in 1904 
said it was all right to buy a "menagerie issue" if you could 
get it for a nickel, but when you pay more, you are simply 
helping to support "some bankrupt country with about 
800 inhabitants." Still true as gospel today, save that the 
bankrupt country may have from a hundred and thirty to 
a hundred and eighty million inhabitants. And that writer 
"hadn't seen nothing yet." When the British colonies that 
same year brought forth new issues with the crown water- 
mark in multiple, another editor considered this "the last 
straw which will break the back of the philatelic camel." 
But that earners back has been broken time and again; it 
has more lives than a cat. 

All protests were vain, and so governments found a new 
sort of revenue just dropping into their hands like ripe 
fruit from a tree. Sometimes stamp hobbyists in high 
places helped the cause along. An American philatelist was 
for several years a financial adviser to the Haitian govern- 
ment, and during that time Haiti's stamp issues were 
numerous and colorful. Then he took a similar position 
with the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, and soon Abyssinia 
blossomed out with many new stamps. Young nations 
quickly caught the idea. North Ingermanland, a little patch 
of earth between the Neva and Finland, declared itself 


independent of Russia in 1920, set the presses going and 
turned out fourteen pictorial stamps, one an invert now 
worth forty dollars, before Russia noticed its existence and 
squelched it a few months later. 

Italy fortunately has a long history from which to draw 
events for commemoration, but has so nearly exhausted 
them with her numerous stamps that some of the celebra- 
tions seem rather remote the fiftieth anniversary of the 
death of Alessandro Manzoni, the fourth centenary of the 
death of the Tuscan warrior Francesco Ferruci, the cen- 
tenary of the Military Medal of Valor, the two-thousandth 
anniversary of the birth of Horace, the bi-millenary of 
Augustus Caesar it would be tedious to name even a tenth 
of them. As for celebrities, so many of them have appeared 
on stamps that the supply began to run low several years 
ago, and Brazil and other countries have been picturing 
persons whom American collectors couldn't find in any 
encyclopedia or other book of reference. Finally, in despera- 
tion, about 1937, several foreign countries suddenly de- 
veloped an admiration for the United States and began 
celebrating the writing of our constitution and the setting 
up of our government. They are at it yet. They are por- 
traying our presidents and other heroes. Literally dozens of 
countries issued series in honor of our World's Fair at 
New York in 1939, and some honored the San Francisco 
Fair, too. The remorseless war upon the collector's purse 
reached its peak that summer when France, which had 
already issued twenty-six stamps for self and colonies in 
celebration of our great Fair, announced the imminence 
of a hundred and forty more stamps. At that, Theodore 
Champion, her great philatelic publicist, who had stood 
by his native land through all her previous stamp racketeer- 


ing, gagged and declared that he would have nothing to do 
with the new issue. 

An enormous change has come over governments in 
the past three decades, and over our own only since 1920. 
Time was when the collector was an object of contempt, 
a nuisance. It was reported from Hungary about 1895 that 
the government had boys employed, tearing off the mar- 
gins of stamp sheets, and no pleading by collectors was of 
any avail. The plate-number bugs had made themselves 
unpopular in America, too. In 1896 a collector reported 
seeing clerks tearing margins off sheets in the New York 
post office. An outrage was reported from Newport, Rhode 
Island, in 1884, where the postmaster refused to pick out 
an assortment of envelopes for a dealer when he found 
that they were wanted for collectors. "If you want them 
for business purposes," said he, 'Til get them for you; but 
if for collectors, I can't bother with them." On the other 
hand, Springfield, Massachusetts, reported practically ideal 
conditions in 1903; "We are fortunate in having most 
obliging clerks at the stamp window. Both Mr. Connor and 
Mr. Gaffney, the cashier, are very kind in assisting collec- 
tors to obtain well-centered specimens, etc." But what a 
different story in the larger cities! 

By 1890 the Post Office had decided that foreign stamps, 
used or unused, received from Europe, must pay the regu- 
lar twenty-five per cent duty as printed matter; and instead 
of figuring this on the cost of producing the stamps, which 
the collectors would have agreed to, they laid the duty 
on the invoice value. Philatelists sometimes arranged with 
foreign correspondents to affix several high value stamps 
to a letter, just to make a collector's piece. In 1891 Govern- 
ment ruled that if more than enough stamps were affixed 
to pay the postage, the receiver must pay the duty on the 


extra stamps. In one case, sixty-five cents was the penalty 
on one letter entering at New York. Such envelopes were 
actually seized, the addressees being permitted to remove 
the contents, and the covers released only upon payment 
of duty. But after some years of battling by the stamp 
fraternity, stamps were placed upon the free list in 1897. 
This, however, will give a hint of the intransigent attitude 
of the government at the time. 

It was when the Columbian series of 1893 appeared that 
Uncle Sam first began to show touchiness about the re- 
production of his stamps in books and periodicals. During 
more than two decades of the twentieth century, our limita- 
tions in this regard were the most rigid in the world, due 
to the stubbornness of an iron-headed chief of the secret 
service named Moran. In 1909 a law was passed which 
made the mere possession of a reproduction of a stamp a 
criminal offense. Only a portion of the outer frame of one 
of our stamp designs could be legally reproduced. Even 
foreign stamps, even and here was the height of absurdity 
even old express and carrier stamps of our distant past, 
never used by the Post Office, must be mutilated when 

Of course you might not have in your possession a for- 
eign publication which pictured United States stamps. No 
homes nor business offices were searched to discover such 
publications, but probably they would have been if Moran 
had had his way. Periodicals illustrating our stamps fre- 
quently slipped into this country because the Post Office 
hadn't time to examine them all; but books, in the later 
years of Moran's reign, seldom did. Persons have ordered 
such books from abroad quite innocently, paid for them, 
and never seen them. Upon inquiring at the New York post 
office, they would eventually learn that "We destroy such 


books as that; they're illegal." Russia itself could have been 
no more summary. But what a change there has been since 
a stamp collector, Franklin D. Roosevelt, came into the 
Presidency! Our country now joins others which have long 
had an intelligent attitude in such matters, and so far, no 
one has yet cut a picture of a stamp out of a catalogue, 
pasted it on a letter and tried to send it through the mail. 

George B. Sloane remarks upon the vast difference in 
the attitude of the Post Office twenty years ago and now. 
Twenty-five years ago, if you, a youthful collector, went to 
the stamp window of a city post office such as New York 
and asked for one of the new ten-cent stamps, requesting 
that it be well centered, the clerk would "Gr-r-r-r-r" at you 
like a wolf in a steel trap, making some snarling remark 
about "collectors" in a tone indicating that they were of 
an order rather lower than cockroaches; and other custom- 
ers lined up behind you would stare at you as at some un- 
usual mental case. And oftentimes you had to take your 
stamp as was. The result was that boy collectors usually 
waited in a corner of the post office until there were no 
other customers at the window and then approached tim- 
idly, hoping that the clerk wouldn't be too vicious. Of 
course this wouldn't happen in the average small-town post 
office, as we ourselves can testify. Courtesy and sympathy 
have always been more common there than in the great 
city. But there was no official support from Washington 
for any such courtesy. For more than half a century Uncle 
Sam was as stupid in his attitude toward collectors as were 
the railroad executives in their discourtesy toward people 
who were fascinated by locomotives, never realizing that 
such folk were potentially their best friends. 

But how different it is today! Sir Philatelist is top dog 
now, and Uncle Sam, beaming and rubbing his hands, says, 


"What will you have today, Sir or Madame? I am at your 
service." The New York postmaster sends out word that 
children who want new stamps or first-day covers from 
anywhere will be taken care of just as if they were in a 
kindergarten. Extra forces of clerks are rushed to the places 
where first-day sales take place, in the effort to give good 
service; stamps are lightly canceled, so as not to spoil their 
appearance, the name of the town and the cachet are so 
clearly and carefully stamped that they might almost have 
been done on a printing press. A group of people who 
spend millions of dollars yearly, paying many times their 
intrinsic value for little pictures printed by the government 
and not demanding postal service in return, is well worth 
cultivating; but it required the coming of a philatelist Presi- 
dent to the White House finally to drill the fact deeply 
into the iron skulls of Department officials. 

And yet, with all this service, collectors are not satisfied. 
The little post office at Cooperstown, New York, had to 
handle 600,000 baseball centenary stamps on a date in 
1939, most of them on first-day covers, requiring a special 
force, who worked several days, yet postmarked every cover 
with the traditional first-day date, even though some went 
out several days later. And yet there were collectors who 
raged because some of these letters were delayed a week. At 
least one wrote an indignant letter to a stamp magazine 
about it, and was still more furious because his letter wasn't 
printed. If he could only realize what fine service he is 
getting from the Post Office, by contrast with what his 
fathers and predecessors had to suffer, he might give thanks 
instead of excoriating. 

These business-return envelopes with a row of bars or 
stripes down one end, like an old-time oarsman's jersey, 
sent you by concerns which want something from you; do 


you laymen know how the postage on them is paid when 
you send one of them back? Well, it's done by means of 
postage-due stamps. When a batch of them comes into a 
post office, directed to the Universal Whirligig Company, 
they are counted and the postman takes canceled postage- 
due stamps equal to the sum owing on them to the Uni- 
versal office, along with the letters. He is charged with the 
stamps and must collect the cash from the Universal Com- 
pany to cover them. Postage-due stamps are of course an 
object of desire by collectors, and naturally, the one-, two- 
and three-cent ones are most common, as they are found on 
many letters. Hence the clerk in the Universal office, if he 
handles this business or is in touch with collectors who will 
buy the stamps, asks the postman to bring him stamps of 
unusual values, and to ask the office to cancel them lightly; 
thus he has a readily salable article. A New Yorker was noti- 
fied recently that a package addressed to him was found to 
have writing in it, and was asked to call and pay the excess 
postage. When he found the proper window, a pleasant 
little lady said, "Now, what denomination of postage-due 
stamps would you prefer?" and then smilingly, when he 
hesitated, 'The one-half cents are uncommon." So he 
chose the one-halfs, she canceled them lightly and passed 
them out. Try to fancy that happening in 1910! 

It is a fact that, in order to get high denominations of 
postage-due stamps, canceled, collectors in recent years 
have been known to wrap up a brick and mail it to them- 
selves, explaining the gag to a genial clerk, telling him just 
what denominations of stamps they wanted, and adding, 
"And light cancellations, please." 

The Government Philatelic Agency at Washington, 
which has become an enormous business, is another service 
brought about by the presence of a philatelist in high posi- 


tion. It was founded in Harding's administration, in 1921, 
at the instance of Second Assistant Postmaster-General W. 
Irving Glover, whose wife was a collector. Its first fiscal 
year's sales were only $20,906.50, but the second year's 
jumped to $105,317.03 and the third year's to $129,646.51. 
Thence it rose steadily to $302,619.54 for the year ending 
June 30, 1933. Then the avalanche of new commemora- 
tives under the Roosevelt administration brought it up 
with a leap to $811,723.00, and in the next year, 1934-35, 
it reached its peak with sales of $2,340,484.02. Since 
then it has almost steadily declined, and with the year end- 
ing June 30, 1939, the figures came down to $1,312,016.48. 
Efforts are now being made to boost business with the phil- 
atelic truck which tours the country with a full exhibit of 
our national stamps from the beginning until now, and 
which undoubtedly lures some new devotees into the 

Another idea for increasing sales is being worked hard in 
the frantic designing of new series and new single stamps. 
The celebrity series of thirty-five stamps which is being pre- 
pared as these words are written is as nothing compared to 
the list of more than two hundred more or less noteworthy 
men and women whom a contributor to Stamps proposed 
in 1935 as philatelic honorees "to advance American cul- 
ture." This writer omitted the name of O. O. Mclntyre, 
the columnist, which was demanded on a stamp by a later 
publicist, and we are surprised not to see him among the 
new stamps pending. Perhaps if Mr. Farley remains in 
power long enough, we may yet see portraits of Dick 
Harlow, Joe Louis, Eddie Guest, Joe Di Maggio, Charlie 
McCarthy, Greta Garbo, Father Coughlin, Father Town- 
send, Father Divine, yes, and even Mr. Farley's own on 
our postage stamps. 


Meanwhile, foreign governments continue to exploit us 
for all they are worth. All through the summer of 1939 
many of them maintained stamp shops in their buildings 
at the New York World's Fair, where stamps intended 
solely for collectors and not for postal purposes were sold 
over the counter. Iceland has made a contract with a store 
in New York for the exclusive handling of her new stamp 
issues. It is to be hoped that some Icelandic agent does not 
become overenthusiastic, as did an agent of the Amundsen 
North Pole Flight in 1924, who sold exclusive American 
rights to department stores and stamp dealers here, there 
and everywhere. 

The newest startling story of the exploitation of collec- 
tors comes in the autumn of 1939. Brazil has just had five 
million of a set of four stamps ponder that figure, five 
million printed, of which four million are not to see Brazil 
at all, but have been placed in her consul's office in New 
York. One million have been sent to Brazil, where one 
hundred sets of four will be delivered to certain of the 
larger post offices, with the specification that only one set 
be sold to a customer. The rest will be sold right from the 
factory to the collector. 

These words are written at the close of 1939, which has 
seen the issue of the largest number of commemoratives on 
record. Already three hundred new stamps are known to 
be planned for 1940, and experts estimate that the number 
will rise to two thousand before the year is over. The motto 
of the governmental hucksters seems to be, "All the traffic 
will bear, and then some." 


i_- r i-o 

his nefarious work in 1840, 
within a few months after 

Britain issued the first adhesive stamp, though Rowland 
Hill, when he saw the imitation of the penny black, de- 
clared it "a miserable thing, and could not possibly deceive 
anybody but the most stupid and ignorant." The first for- 
geries made were to be sold for postage purposes. One of 
the cleverest of all time was not discovered until twenty- 
six years afterward. In 1898 it was found that a counterfeit 
of the one-shilling green had been sold at the Stock Ex- 
change Telegraph Office in London for several months in 

When collecting got into its stride, forgeries of the more 
uncommon stamps were stealthily turned out for philate- 
lists. The cheat and the fakir always spring into action under 
such circumstances, and in the case of philately, individual 
fakirs were followed by national ones. Reproductions of 
those early Mauritius, Hawaii, Russia, and British Guiana 
rarities crept into the market and threw the whole collect- 
ing fraternity into an uproar. Fortunately for later genera- 
tions, experts were able to identify and denounce the fakes. 
Even as early as 1863, an Englishman found it necessary 
to write a pamphlet on Postage Stamp Forgeries. 



Later on, still more brilliant ideas were originated. Al- 
leged stamps of Ecuador and Guatemala were on sale be- 
fore those countries had even begun to issue stamps. Im- 
aginary countries Capacua, Bateke and Nova Potuca, for 
example were invented, years before Anthony Hope's 
Ruritania and George Barr McCutcheon's Graustark got 
into print; small communities such as the old Greek mon- 
astery on Mount Athos, Moresnet on the lower Rhine, an 
obscure province in Sumatra and bleak, lonely places like 
Kerguelen Island, Torres Straits, Clipperton Island and 
glacial Spitsbergen and Franz Josef Land in the Arctic, 
none of which ever issued stamps, were represented as 
doing so, and there were the prettily engraved stamps to 
prove it. Thousands were sold before the cheats were ex- 
posed. Many of these were traced to "A nest of thieves 
fabricating frauds in Paris." Fake five-cent and eight-cent 
stamps supposed to have been issued by the Mormon col- 
ony of Utah in 1852 were among our own contributions. 

You couldn't fool present-day collectors as easily as that. 
They watch their catalogues and periodicals, they know 
their geography and history. They are glibly familiar with 
little stamp-issuing countries, provinces and dependencies 
which most folk have never heard of. Go out today and 
ask the first five hundred theoretically educated people you 
meet what and where Nossi-Be is or Inhambane or Inini 
or Bhore or Oltre Giuba; and the probabilities are that 
no one save some of the philatelists who will inevitably be 
found among the five hundred can tell you whether they 
are political units or chemical elements or heathen gods. 
Thus stamp collecting teaches geography and political his- 

Even some eminent stamp concerns did not escape ac- 
cusation. The American Journal of Philately said in 1869 


that "Alfred Smith & Company must have sold enough of 
the Guatemala humbug to have turned in a considerable 
revenue to the concocter." By 1870 the Journal and several 
such journals in Europe were printing every month re- 
markably accurate pictures of stamps in colors. Other pub- 
lishers and dealers would ask permission of these magazines 
to buy or borrow a few electrotypes to illustrate a price list. 
With these, actual counterfeits were turned out, gummed, 
perforated and sold. In 1876 it was declared that "Probably 
never in the history of philately in America were there as 
many counterfeits in circulation as at the present day." To 
guard against them "A Middle Aged Collector," advised in 
a magazine article, "Make it a positive rule to put no stamp 
into your album until you have devoted at least five min- 
utes to a careful study of it." But this tedious process was 
evidently too exhausting to many collectors, and they con- 
tinued to stud their collections with paste diamonds. 

Other countries, too, were having their troubles with 
forgery not only collectors, but governments. In Colombia 
the pest was so virulent that for a time no stamps could 
be affixed to letters save by the post-office clerks. You just 
handed your money and letter in at the window, and the 
clerk did the rest. And there was a story from Spain of 
certain parties who covered a stamp with a colorless some- 
thing or other, no more stable than paraffine. The addressee 
washed this coating off and with it the cancellation; peeled 
the stamp off the envelope, recoated it with the stuff and 
used it again. It was asserted that long correspondences 
were thus carried on with only one stamp doing all the 

Some small dealers announced that "We guarantee every 
stamp we sell," to which editorial critics retorted that their 
guarantees weren't worth the snap of a finger. Of a couple 


of sheets sent out by the "Eagle Stamp Company," a 
Pennsylvania concern, with the notation printed thereon, 
"We do not need to warrant our stamps they warrant 
themselves," the Philatelic Monthly commented, "And yet 
every stamp on the two sheets was a rank counterfeit." Edi- 
tors frequently pointed out other unscrupulous dealers by 
name; "So-and-so of Boston is an individual to whom col- 
lectors had better not trust their cash." Philately certainly 
needed a Better Business Bureau in those post-bellum 
years, when many phases of life showed the degrading 
effect which war always leaves in its wake. 

Counterfeiters were pikers in those days; stamps were 
being forged with a market value as low as one cent! Of 
course rarities were favorite game. In 1873 the American 
Journal of Philately warned "the tyro" to have nothing to 
do with Reunion stamps unless they were certified by a 
competent authority. "The originals are so very rare that 
you may as well make up your minds you will never be 
able to obtain them." A Philadelphia-Camden gang headed 
by a man named Petroni was rounded up in 1875, tried for 
forging foreign stamps and convicted, but received sus- 
pended sentences because it was the first case of the sort 
and because there was a slight flaw in the indictment! 
Petroni said he had sought legal advice before going into 
the business and had been assured that it would not be a 
violation of any statute. One finds in the report of this trial 
plenty of the legal hocus-pocus so familiar to us all, such as 
the argument of Petroni's counsel that no evidence had 
been introduced to show that there were in existence such 
countries as Nicaragua and British Guiana. In 1877 a forgery 
of the whole Mexican series of 1875 appeared. The Ameri- 
can Journal of Philately said that report was that "the block 
has been engraved by one Beyer, a well-grown boy who 


sells counterfeit stamps under the name of the Atlas Stamp 

It will by this time be apparent to most moderns that 
the honest dealers, editors and experts of those days had 
their hands full in the battle against chicanery. In the early 
'90*5 some prominent British dealers were rubber-stamping 
a guarantee on the back of every stamp they sold. The 
battle was fought right bravely and shrewdly, and with the 
honesty and care of those who have come later, even to the 
present day, added to theirs, there is now no valid reason 
why any collector should buy a bogus stamp. 

Some of the most picturesque characters in philately are 
found among the forgers of the later nineteenth century. 
There were many notorious ones in Europe, but we have 
space to mention only those remarkable partners, Alfred 
Benjamin and Julian Hippolyte Sarpy, who operated in 
London. They actually had the nerve at one time to print 
and circulate a business card, reading, "BENJAMIN & SARPY, 
Dealers in all kinds of Facsimiles, Faked Surcharges and 
Fiscal Postals, i CULLUM STREET, LONDON, E.G. Fakes of all 
descriptions supplied on the shortest notice." 

Fred J. Melville in The Stamp Lover tells of a visit of 
Ferrary to their shop, when, after salutations, this conver- 
sation ensued: 

Ferrary: Have you got anything for me? 

Sarpy (after contemplation): I think we have; a 
Straits Settlements inverted surcharge. (Pause, then 
raising his voice). I say, Ben, haven't we got an in- 
verted surcharge Straits? Here's Mr. Ferrary wants to 
see it. 

Ben (from behind the arras) : I think we 'ave, Sarp. 
I'll just 'ave a look. 


A few minutes later the stamp was passed out to 
Sarpy, shown to Ferrary, who kept it. 

Sarpy: Didn't we have another of those, with double 
surcharge, one inverted? 

Ben (still behind) : So we did. Now where is it? (A 
brief delay while Ben gets to work and the variety is 

On one such occasion Ferrary, it is said, accidentally 
touched the surcharge with his finger and it smeared. There 
was some discussion about this, but the great collector, so 
Benjamin affirmed, accepted it. Sometimes we think 
Ferrary must have been just a little dumb. 

This precious pair were finally convicted in 1892 and 
given short prison terms "with hard labour," on the charge 
that, as a philatelic witness described it to the court, they 
"took a Sydney View, cleaned it, postmarked it, and turned 
it into a New Zealand fiscal/' This was a deep, dark mys- 
tery to the judge until explained in plain language. Another 
forger, a Dr. Assmus, was given three years, so Mr. Melville 
tells us, probably because the judge was more greatly 
shocked by the turning of the queen's head upside down 
on a colonial stamp than by the other forgeries, which 
didn't seem to impress him seriously. 

In America the most notorious and impudent forger of 
the period was S. Allan Taylor, who founded this nation's 
first stamp journal at Albany in 1864, and thereafter op- 
erated mostly in Boston. He was often known as "Just-as- 
good Taylor," because of his open insistence that for the 
purposes of collectors, his forgeries were "just as good" as 
the real stamps. He described himself as "a gentleman of 
flexible conscience and speculative disposition." Late in his 
career he once remarked, "In the early days all dealers sold 


imitations; some of them have changed their methods, I 
have not." Taylor in his earlier days worked hand in hand 
with F. Trifet of Boston, and in 1867 had the nerve to 
advertise in Trifet's magazine, his "Hamburg Local or 
Boten stamps; These are not of the spurious New York 

Taylor often privately expressed his opinion that stamp 
collectors were damned fools, and there are those even at 
this day who excuse him on the ground that, when pinned 
down, he would not claim that his stamps were genuine; 
that if collectors were asses enough to buy his imitation 
stamps, he had a right to make and sell them. Once when 
Walter S. Scott was a very young man he was commis- 
sioned to go to Boston and buy a pair of Canada twelve- 
pence stamps at an auction, paying as high as twelve-hun- 
dred dollars, if necessary. There he saw Taylor, who was 
saddened at the thought of a fine young man like Walter 
drifting into the stamp business. "Why does your father 
let you do it," he demanded, "when you might turn your 
talents to something so much more worth while? The idea 
of coming up here to pay twelve-hundred dollars for a 
couple of little scraps of paper. It's criminal insanity!" 

He seemed quite sincere in his denunciation. But col- 
lectors by that time were becoming too wise to buy his 
imitations, and in his later years he died somewhere 
around 1906-7 he was a platform man on the Boston Ele- 
vated line. 

There are stamps once rated high which later fell under 
suspicion and declined enormously in value. There are whis- 
pers today about two of the world's unique stamps which 
have sold for enormous figures skepticism because their 
life history cannot be authenticated; and yet they may be 


as genuine as an ear of Indiana corn. But Ferrary bought 
from C. H. Mekeel of St. Louis in the '90*5 a unique al- 
leged St. Louis local stamp, "City Dispatch 2 cents," black 
on blue paper, on a valentine letter, postmarked Feb. 14, 
1851 and addressed to "Miss F. Wood. At Mo. Hotel, St. 
Louis, Mo./' in payment for which Ferrary wrote a char- 
acteristic check just penned the whole thing on a piece of 
blank paper: 

Iselin & Co., Bankers, New York. 

Pay Mr. Mekeel of St. Louis 

Twenty-four hundred and thirty-five dollars $2435.00 
Philip Renotiere Ferrary 

But at a Ferrary sale in 1922 this stamp had fallen from 
its high estate and brought only 17 los, because its gen- 
uineness was under suspicion. 

There are national governments, great and small, today, 
unblushingly working Taylor's just-as-good idea for all it is 
worth though they do not offer their shoddy wares as hon- 
estly as Taylor did. Instead, the pretense is kept up that 
these are stamps sincerely intended for postal purposes. 
Mexico, Nicaragua and some other countries have been 
doing this ever since the days of Seebeck. The deliberately 
scarce item is a favorite stunt. Bolivia has issued as few as 
twenty-five of a single stamp. Of the sixteen Mexican items 
of 1915 surcharged on stamps of 1903, it is said that only 
five denominations were purchasable at the post office, and 
certain values were printed in lots of only from six to fifty 
copies, which were handed to a favored few. A surcharged 
series of 1916 was blatantly speculative; small quantities of 
each value were sold at post offices, but subsequently could 
be bought only from government officials or their agents, 
at advanced prices. In 1929 a small lot of stamps in several 


varieties, printed in colors different from those of the regu- 
lar stamps, was offered at the post office. 

The stern dicta of the two great cataloguers on either 
side of the Atlantic stand between such fakery and the 
collector's purse, if the latter will only listen to them. 
Gibbons refuses to recognize souvenir stamps. Scott will 
not recognize them unless they have been offered to the 
public regularly through post offices for a reasonable length 
of time. He who collects may read such notes as this in the 
Standard Catalogue under Cuba: "The so-called Artists 
and Authors set of 17 varieties of postage, 4 airpost and 2 
special delivery stamps was on sale at post offices that day 
only. We do not recognize them as having been issued 
primarily for postage purposes." In the same catalogue, 
under a reproduction of an Italian stamp picturing "Christ 
Among His Disciples," a suavely factual bit of irony in- 
forms the reader that this "unnecessary" issue was sold al- 
most entirely to speculators. 

When New South Wales issued that tuberculosis hos- 
pital stamp in 1897 she launched a most pernicious idea. 
The single stamp or series of stamps sold at an increased 
price two, three, five, and in the case of the Austrian mu- 
sicians' series, ten times face value for the benefit of this 
or that charity or welfare work, society or private enter- 
prise, sometimes almost unblushingly for the government 
itself, has become a commonplace. D'Annunzio's adven- 
ture at Fiume, and indeed, the brief existence of Fiume as 
a state was admittedly financed largely by stamps, as were 
likewise the stunts of Zeligowsky and Korfanty in Lithuania 
and Upper Silesia just after the World War. Little states 
like Lithuania and Latvia have almost worked the gift horse 
to death. In Italy no end of such organizations as the Na- 
tional Institute Figli del Littorio and the Dante Alighieri 

Photos from U. S. Post Office Department 

Above The "smallest post office," Searsburg, Vermont: the 

type eliminated by thousands by Rural Free Delivery. 
Below A very early R.F.D. wagon, which operated in 

in the USTTED 
120 000 AnnuMy; w 


A XT> 


A few oddities from Edward H. Knapp's collection of adver- 
tising and propaganda envelopes. 


Society (at least twice) have benefited by special stamps. 
There may be communist collectors who through purchases 
of certain stamps have, knowingly or unknowingly, aided 
the Benevolent Fund of the Black Shirts. In the island of 
St. Kitts in 1923 a stamp was issued to enable the army 
officers to buy land and lay out a cricket field. The Belgian 
Congo recently issued stamps to promote the building of a 
zoo, and Germany has issued them regularly for the fur- 
therance of certain favored horse races. 

It has not been so many months ago that a man with a 
Spanish accent appeared among the dealers of New York 
City peddling the stamps of a Central American country; 
its name is not mentioned here because there are honest 
philatelists down there who are already sufficiently humili- 
ated by the total absence of ethic from their government's 
postal doings. This traveling salesman would accept face 
value, or if the dealer was hard-boiled, he would shade the 
price a bit. 

"Where do you come in?" he was asked by one dealer. 

"Oh, I wouldn't handle them, of course," he replied 
frankly, "unless I got full commission. But my government 
is willing to give whatever is necessary to sell the stamps 
in the United States." The dealer to whom he was talking 
knew that twenty per cent is the ordinary share for such 

One day not so many eons ago a swarthy, pompous gen- 
tleman entered the office of an official of a large company 
in New York which deals in stamps and philatelic supplies. 
He was followed by a somewhat younger, obsequious bru- 
net person, no doubt his secretary, who was carrying a par- 
cel. It was revealed that the big man was the ex-dictator of 
a Latin American country who had like many tropical dic- 
tators, sooner or later been suddenly compelled, for his 


health's sake, to leave the hot, sultry climate of his native 
land, taking with him only a few bits of portable property, 
including not so much treasury cash as he could have de- 

The secretary opened the package which he carried and 
began taking out sheet after sheet of new stamps, of a 
variety which the stamp dealer had never before seen. It 
presently came out though in much more suave and deli- 
cate language than we can muster that the president, 
aware of the world passion for philately, and foreseeing that 
he would, at some time in the near future, be called upon 
to hit the trail running, had grabbed the whole issue of that 
particular stamp, thinking thereby to create a rarity and 
pick up some easy money after he reached the States by 
doling them out in limited quantities at premium prices. 

The country which has gone into the business in a really 
big way is Russia. The Soviet Philatelic Association of that 
country a government bureau, of course is an absolute 
monopoly, and one of the blandest of the world's rackets. 
There are no other stamp dealers in Russia; you can't even 
swap a single stamp inside the boundaries. Beautiful new 
issues pour from the presses frequently, and the bureau ad- 
vertises them in philatelic magazines of other countries. If 
you wish to buy them, you must pay in terms of gold rubles 
not paper rubles. Many of the varieties are never seen on 
either letter or package, but if you desire used specimens, 
the bureau will sell them to you, canceled in the most 
natural way, and assure you that their virtue is above ques- 
tion. For these reasons, the stamps of the U.S.S.R. are, by 
wise philatelists somewhat as the wholesale produce mar- 
ket says of parsnips or old hens on a day when they aren't 
selling well they are "neglected." 

The Soviet also seems to be supporting Tannou Touva, 


a puppet state in Asia, largely through the sale of its color- 
ful postage stamps, of which new designs appear every few 

The putting on sale of a stamp for only two or three 
days, or three hours, has resulted in some interesting scenes. 
When Cuba offered her Air Train stamp in June, 1935, 
for example, only 35,000 were printed, and only 13,000 
were available in Havana. They were on sale throughout 
the island at seven-thirty A.M. Crowds were in line in the 
cities at daybreak to buy them, and some camped over- 
night. As much as five dollars was offered for places in 
the line. When the windows were opened, there was a 
near riot. Speculation began immediately, and within a 
few minutes, prices rose to five dollars per pair. In Egypt, 
in 1926, when the Port Fouad stamp was sold in much 
more limited quantity, at that post office only, a mob of 
five thousand nearly wrecked the office and trampled two 
men underfoot. The police, made aware of the value of 
philatelic rarities, would drive the crowd back now and 
then and buy a few more stamps for themselves. 

Once when one of these stamp sales was to go on in 
Mexico, a smart Yankee hired some peons to stand in line 
for him. As each person might purchase only a very limited 
quantity, he employed a considerable number, had them at 
the head of the line before daybreak and gave each of them 
a modest sum with which to buy stamps. But before the 
sale began he went away briefly on an errand. As soon as 
his back was turned, certain conscienceless persons ap- 
proached the peons and offered them very attractive prices 
for their places in line. As the figures were much higher 
than their original employer had promised them, they saw 
no reason in the world why they should not sell out; so sell 
they did, and, not troubling to look up their first boss and 


return his stamp money, they faded into the landscape, all 
independently wealthy. 

For several years an organization flourished in the West 
Indies a sociedad, they call it which had a colossal phil- 
atelic idea. It wanted every nation on the western conti- 
nent to put on sale for two weeks each year until 1945 a 
special stamp or series of stamps for its benefit. It signed 
up some Latin-American nations, but did not land the 
United States. With the proceeds what was left, that is, 
after paying the overhead the society would "secure the 
custody of, restore and care for any monuments erected to 
Columbus and the other discoverers of America." For years 
it was publicly stated that this society intended building 
with its increment a forty-million-dollar lighthouse in mem- 
ory of Columbus; but it finally denied this and said that 
the lighthouse, which will doubtless be built of jasper and 
chalcedony and sardonyx and chrysoprase, will be the work 
of another organization. 

Airplane flights have been a favorite method of exploit- 
ing the collector. From the time of Harry Hawker's flight 
across the Atlantic in 1919, the fad has frequently been 
thus used. Some of these covers have brought fancy prices 
in after years; one carried by De Pinedo in 1927 has sold 
for as much as thirty-five hundred dollars. When Darius 
and Girenas planned a flight from New York to Lithuania 
in 1933, their airplane propeller was in hock for repairs, and 
as there seemed no other way to get it out, they announced 
that they would get up a cachet and carry letters. As both 
of the poor fellows were killed in landing on the other side, 
it was an unfortunate idea. 

One scheme was that originated by a pilot who wished 
to fly from Minnesota to London, but lacked some of the 
equipment for the job, including the minor item of a plane. 


The captain, as he was of course called, just as a county- 
fair balloon aeronaut used always to be a "professor," was 
a good promoter. He organized Aerial World Tours, Inc., 
and persuaded the Newfoundland Government for a 
promised consideration of $80,000 to permit his company 
to print 400,000 so-called air-mail stamps of one dollar face 
value, which were to be canceled by the St. John's post office 
when he took flight from there. The promoters, however, 
were to sell these stamps to collectors, and as will be appar- 
ent even to a beginner in mathematics, at four-hundred per 
cent profit. 

After being printed in the United States, the stamps 
were delivered to Newfoundland, and the promoters, rais- 
ing $5,000 advance money somehow, drew twenty-five thou- 
sand of them, which they began selling to philatelists. They 
proposed to pick up some extra money in various ways. In 
addition to the dollar charge for the stamps, there was a 
handling fee of ten cents per order, plus postage and regis- 
tration. Covers could be registered for an additional fifty 
cents, though the regular mail charge was ten cents. For a 
further payment of fifty cents the envelope would be auto- 
graphed by the crew. But the company would not guaran- 
tee delivery of any covers. 

Philatelic editors on both sides of the ocean raised such 
a storm of denunciation that the scheme was killed in its 
infancy. The Standard cataloguers having indicated that 
they would refuse to recognize the stamp, the buying of 
them almost ceased. A group of persons, mostly dealers, 
who had been stuck with large blocks of them, organized 
a committee and tried strenuously to work them off. But it 
was of no use; Scotts refused to countenance the stamp, 
and finally the Newfoundland Government repudiated the 
whole deal. 


Speaking of synthetic rarities, when Harry Richman, 
night-club and radio performer, and Richard Merrill 
planned their airplane hop from New York to London in 
1936, they announced that they would carry only five let- 
ters, which were to be postmarked in Brooklyn and back- 
stamped in London; the asking price of the covers was to 
be a thousand dollars apiece. When the Mexican aviator 
Sarabia flew to New York in 1939, his government issued 
only twenty-one hundred of a special stamp, of which four 
hundred were sent to the Universal Postal Union, after the 
usual custom; Sarabia received a thousand some reports 
said he sold them for one-hundred dollars apiece, though 
he claimed that he received only from thirty to forty dol- 
larsthree hundred went to Mexico's Philatelic Agency, to 
be sold for as much as the market would stand, and four 
hundred were sold by lottery; none through the post office. 
The Mexican Philatelic Society protested in vain against 
such skullduggery. Some leading New York dealers in air- 
mail stamps refused to handle this one, but one depart- 
ment store succeeded in corralling nearly a hundred copies 
from various sources, and they sold like hot cakes to collec- 
tors at $29.50 before the flight took place. 

Among the Mexican stamps of 1935, the Standard Cata- 
logue has this to say of one: "We do not recognize the 
variety created by overprinting No. 975 with the words, 
'Vuelo de Amelia Earhart, 1935,' as a stamp issued for pos- 
tal purposes/' Only 780 of these stamps were issued, of 
which 480 went to the Universal Postal Union, ten were 
given to diplomats, thirty were sold to members of phila- 
telic societies in New York City, ten count them ten were 
sold to the public at face value by lottery, and 250 went to 
Mr. Putnam, Miss Earhart's husband, who had supplied 
the die and the violet ink for the overprinting. Miss Earhart 


had not been sworn in as a United States pilot, and as she 
did not deliver the mail to this government at our border, 
but carried it all the way to Newark, the post office there 
refused to receive it. Considerable pressure was brought 
upon the Standard cataloguers to induce them to recognize 
the stamp, but in vain. Foreign governments under the 
same circumstances have sometimes threatened all sorts of 
things if their stamps were not given a clean bill of health; 
threats which are never carried out. 

These aviators become huffy sometimes when people 
don't come across. When De Pinedo made his world flight 
in 1925, he was given ninety-three letters at Calcutta to be 
carried to Melbourne. All carried a beautiful cachet with 
map of India and airplane, and the words, 'Italian World 
Air Flight." De Pinedo had autographed all the covers ac- 
cording to request when he demanded that the Calcutta 
folk pay over twenty rupees per cover for Italian charities. 
They declined to do this. He accordingly delivered the 
letters to the Italian consulate at Melbourne with his auto- 
graph cut from each, and they were returned to the senders 
without passing through the mails, so that they had no 
philatelic value. 

Rocket flights have taken many a dollar from collectors. 
Every now and then some promoter tries one, and the 
philatelists always help him out. The rockets never get any- 
where, but that doesn't seem to matter. In a flight "from 
New York to New Jersey" at Greenwood Lake in 1935, the 
first rocket was prudently launched very close to the State 
line, soared about a hundred feet through the air and slid 
across the line on the ice. The second did only slightly 
better. There were 4,800 letters and 1,850 post cards in the 
rockets, on which enthusiasts had stuck seventy-five-cent 
and fifty-cent special stamps, in addition to the United 


States stamps necessary to carry the missives back to their 
owners. In a stunt on the Texas Mexican border in 1936, 
advertised as 'The First Complete International Rocket 
Flight in the World/' one of the missiles actually did suc- 
ceed in getting across the little creek there known as the 
Rio Grande. Another attempt in Cuba in 1939 was even 
less successful; the rockets just fizzed and wouldn't fly. 

Of course there are elaborate cachets prepared for these 
events. The cachet, in company with the first-day cover, is 
a favorite fad just now. Anybody can promote one. If you 
wish to "sponsor" a cachet for the dedication of the Odd 
Fellows Hall at Squab Center or the fiftieth anniversary of 
the building of Peleg Pringle's cider mill at the Corners, 
you have only to announce it in a stamp magazine, and 
hundreds of collectors will send you money for the covers. 
We read that "So and so will have a surprise cachet for the 
end of April or beginning of May," and no doubt many 
collectors send stamps for they don't know what. The 
cachets of the Seth Parker World Cruise brought in a nice 
bit of money toward paying the expenses of the trip. Re- 
cently some disgusted anti-cachet collector produced a 
cachet reading, "Hooey, Baloney, Bunk," as a nose-thumb- 
ing gesture at the whole business. 

The humiliating episode in our own country in 1934, 
when Postmaster-General Farley deliberately set about cre- 
ating rarities for Administration philatelists, from the Presi- 
dent on down, and for other favored insiders by distribut- 
ing to them unperforated sheets of new commemorative 
stamps, the naive revelation of the scheme by one of the 
insiders who sent his sheet, insured for $20,000 and how 
dumb those insurance men were! to New York to be sold, 
the fearful row that arose in the philatelic world and then 
in Congress over the matter, the final capitulation of the 


Postmaster-General after blandly denying for weeks that 
any such sheets existed, his eventual issuance, under pres- 
sure, of imperforate sheets for everybody, so that the value 
of the insiders' haul was ruined, all this constitutes another 
highly significant incident in the revelation of the prevalent 
governmental ethics of the times. Incidentally, Mr. Farley's 
is the first postal administration in our history in which the 
Postmaster-General's name has appeared on the margins 
of stamp sheets which also has its significance. 


^1_ T> -U 1. 

the British posts were 
farmed in 1660, is said to 

have devised the first stamped postmark a small circle 
with two letters above, denoting the month, and below, the 
day of the month. William Dockwra who, under govern- 
ment license, organized an excellent local postage system 
in London in 1680, had two postmarks a triangular design 
containing the words, "Penny Post Paid," and a heart with 
"Mor." (morning) or "Af." (afternoon) and a figure sig- 
nifying the hour at which the missive was mailed. 

In the eighteenth century there came to be other stamps 
-"Paid," "Free" (on franked mail), and eventually, the 
name of the sending town and the date. From Bishopp's 
time until about 1825 all these stamps were cut on wood; 
then steel stamps came into use and continued into the 
twentieth century. 

One of the curious stamps first used by our own young 
government is a little circle containing the date the day 
of the month above, and name of month, expressed by 
two letters, below. And here we find that the Fathers of 
the Republic were so chuck-full of classical learning that 
they must needs print their capital J's as Fs and their U's 




as V's in the ancient Roman fashion. Thus when you see 
a stamp with "23" over "IV," the lower letters appear to 
be the Roman way of writing "4," but not so; it is the ab- 
breviation for June 23d. The twelve months are thus indi- 
cated: IA, FE, MR, AP, MY, IV, IY, AV, SE, OC, NO, and DE. 

The names of the sending office, printed in a straight 
line, began to appear in the early days of our posts, but only 
for the largest cities. New York, with the "New" above the 

(' Th* Pntent State of London," 1081.) 

"York," appears to have been the first form; but very 
shortly the two words were put on the same line, and pres- 
ently the date was added, "NEW YORK august* 12." For 
decades afterward, however, small towns and villages had to 
get along with no postmark save a written one. By the 
beginning of John Adams's administration, the straight- 
line postmark was giving way to the circular one which, 
with slight variations as to size and internal arrangement 
of lettering, became universal and has so remained to this 
day. True, Philadelphia, always quaint, long used an oc- 
tagonal postmark, and there were ovals and half ovals with 
one side perfectly flat, but the circle finally displaced them 
all. We find the seat of government mentioned in these 
early postmarks as WASH. CITY a few years later with the 
Washington spelled in full or the rearrangement, City of 
Washington. Not for more than half a century could they 


quite make up their minds to drop the word "City" from 
the name and just let the D. C. explain it. 

The early die cutters did a lot of curious abbreviating to 
save themselves work. An Indianapolis postmark of 1827, 
for example, mentions the town as INDP I N , while Florida 
was sometimes cut to FLO. They had many varying ideas 
as to abbreviation too: Ore. Ter. or O.T., Col. T. or C.T., 
etc., while the Indian Territory was variously written, Ind. 
Terr., Ind. Ter., Ind.T., I.T., and a few other ways. (Inci- 
dentally, I.T. in mid-nineteenth century might also mean 
either Iowa Territory or Idaho Territory.) The variety of 
these markings, the history and human interest stories that 
lie back of them challenge the curiosity and the collecting 
instinct of any human being who has even the beginnings 
of either of those attributes. Trace the history of Florida, 
for example from its Spanish days, when it was divided into 
East and West Florida see the postmarks, "E. Flo." and 
"W.Flo." Next, as a United States territory, the circular 
postmarks, stamped in black, red or blue, name it as "Fl. 
T." or "F. Ty." Thence through its career as a State in 
both Union and Confederacy, the story goes on. 

The abstract cancellation or "killer," as the modern col- 
lector calls it we see it today usually as a group of parallel 
lines, straight or wavy, flowing from the postmark across 
the face of the stamp was devised when England invented 
the first postage stamp. That first British cancellation die 
was a sort of hollow, double-outlined four-leaf clover, cut 
in wood, and cost each post office a shilling. The idea was 
carried over to this country soon after we began using 
postage stamps, though even to this day many small post 
offices cancel the stamp only with the town-and-date post- 
mark. But no sooner had we begun using a separate killer 
than the exuberant American fancy began to play with its 




Courtesy of "Stamps" 





possibilities, and within three decades had produced the 
wildest crop of postal markings ever seen in any country. 

The postmaster at first cut or had the stamp cut out of 
wood. And then some chap discovered that a bottle cork 
was the easiest thing of all on which to carve a design. The 
possibilities for fun with a nice, new cork and a sharp knife 
were so vast and varied that a rapid decline in the whittling 
of wooden sticks was noted among Yankee postmasters. 

One of the very early rarities among our cancellations is 
a circle with a lyre inside it, found on a stamp of 1847; but 
the stamp was peeled off the envelope ages ago, and no one 
now can tell where the letter was mailed or find any record 
of the town which used such a canceler. The Gold Rush 
and subsequent postalization of the Pacific Coast brought 
some curious canceling designs, notably the kicking mule 
of Goleta, California. But after all, was that any worse than 
the fat pig with which Sandisfield, Massachusetts, was can- 
celing its letters in 1861? 

Those early canceling inks weren't entirely waterproof 
and a tendency developed to wash the stamp and use it 
again. The troubles of the Post Office were complicated by 
the practice, which became widespread during the Civil 
War, of using stamps in small quantities as currency for 
buying cigars or other small items, and even for paying 
street-car or bus fares. Oftentimes, when a passenger 
boarded a vehicle in the rain and fished out from a vest 
pocket two or three stamps already stuck together from 
dampness, a hot argument would arise between him and 
conductor or driver as to whether his currency was passable. 
They were fingered, stuffed into pockets and rumpled 
until they finally "become so defaced/' wrote Postmaster- 
General Creswell in 1870, "as to be inapplicable to legiti- 
mate use for the payment of postage; and evil-disposed 


persons have availed themselves of the opportunity thus 
afforded" of slipping old washed or lightly canceled stamps 
into circulation as currency. Mr. Creswell was therefore 
seeking some way of canceling a stamp which would render 
it forever useless thereafter. One measure that he favored 
was the prohibiting of the removal of canceled stamps for 
any purpose whatsoever from the paper to which they were 
attached. In view of the later appreciation of covers rather 
than the detached stamp, he was really offering collectors 
a boon, though they didn't realize it at the time. But Con- 
gress wouldn't act upon his suggestion, so that was out. 

All sorts of schemes for defacing the stamps otherwise 
than by ink had been and were constantly being proposed. 
In 1862 the Post Office tried out a device which cut the 
stamp in two, but such a dolorous outcry was raised, espe- 
cially by the growing army of collectors, that this was aban- 
doned. Other cutting and scarifying ideas were tried during 
the next three years. A curious cancellation has been found 
on two stamps only of Hawaii, the one-cent purple of 
1864-71 and the two-cent brown of 18753 double circle 
with three tiny circles inside it, these three being sharp- 
edged punches on the metal die which cut the paper and 
carried the ink into the fibers. Some philatelists have sur- 
mised that this die was made for use in the United States, 
but rejected by the Post Office Department. 

In 1863 a Mr. R. P. Sawyer announced that he had a 
new and unbeatable method. He calculated the annual loss 
to the government by the washing of stamps to be ten 
million dollars a rather astronomical sum for those days. 
He could save all this by his new method, which did not 
cut the stamps or the envelope, and would cancel twenty- 
five letters in the time of one by the existing system. It was 
unwashable, and best of all, canceled each stamp in a dif- 


ferent way. The system was the last word, the ne plus ultra. 
"No improvement," said he modestly, "can be made in the 
invention, the subject being exhausted." But we cannot 
learn the nature of his wondrous device, and it is lost to 
the world now, for the government never adopted it. 

Creswell thought the simplest plan of defacement would 
be to gum only half the stamp, so that the other half might 
be torn off as a cancellation a plan already tried in France. 
(He forgot the uproar over the mutilation of 1862.) In his 
1870 report he listed a number of the schemes proposed 
to the Department by earnest individuals who thought they 
had solved the problem. Among the funniest was the one 
he called Number six, whose proponent said, "Let the de- 
facing clerk place the letter upon some suitable support, 
and a single stroke with a rasp or coarse file will obliterate 
the stamp beyond restoration." And the envelope, too, he 
might have added, and probably a portion of the letter. 
Number seven's suggestion was the perforation of two or 
three stamps at once by an electric battery. Number eight's 
was "A thread to underlie the stamp; the thread to pro- 
trude below the stamp sufficiently far to allow of its being 
grasped by the fingers and ripped up through the stamp." 

Number thirteen proposed "a very simple apparatus, con- 
sisting of only one cutter, two springs, three gears for driv- 
ing flywheels, and four flywheels for driving three or more 
circular saws, to scratch off the surface of the stamp." To 
which a New York editor retorted dryly, "There are sev- 
eral of these defacement machines very profitably em- 
ployed at the present time in sawing up boards." Number 
fourteen believed that stamps might be branded like cattle. 
"A small lamp should be kept burning, in which to heat 
the brand," and thus, he asserted, a man could deface a 
stamp in twenty seconds or even four per minute. Clerks 


with hammer cancelers were even then defacing from 150 
to 160 per minute. 

An idea was already in operation at the time, having been 
introduced in 1867 the grill, as it is called now, which con- 
sisted in embossing or pitting the stamp with rows of tiny 
dots supposed to let the ink into the fiber and prevent 
washing. On the first stamp given the treatment, the three- 
cent red, the grilling covered the entire stamp; then it ap- 
peared as a smaller rectangle, and as years went on, with 
all sorts of variations, sometimes being found in the corners 
of the stamp, sometimes at top or bottom, and again on 
one side or the other. The grill ended in 1873. 

Dozens of inventors actually patented their devices 
hoping to sell them to the government. There were ideas 
for not only punching holes, but for cutting a V-shaped 
notch in the edge of the stamp. One of these geniuses 
wrote that "The most effective means of canceling postage 
stamps is to remove a portion of the stamp by a punch." 
But "This has not heretofore been successfully accom- 
plished without cutting the contents of the envelope." So 
he would slit his envelope near the stamp, in order that the 
postal clerk might insert a "suitable flat instrument" and 
thus protect the contents of the letter while punching. 

Patent No. 101,604 proposed pasting a perforated sheet 
of paper on this tissue, then printing the design on the 
perforated sheet so that the printing would be partly on 
that sheet and partly on the thin tissue. Anyone trying to 
remove the stamp would tear the tissue and ruin the de- 
sign. A slightly similar idea was that of the double-paper 
stamps of 1873, which were issued in one-, two-, three-, six-, 
ten- and thirty-cent denominations. They were made of 
two layers of paper, the top one thin and soft, through 
which both printing and canceling ink would thoroughly 


penetrate, and any attempt to remove the postmark would 
wreck the stamp. Between January first, and April 15, 1875, 
twenty-eight million of these stamps were issued. Then 
they were withdrawn, because of complaints from post- 
masters that the upper, thin paper shrank and cracked, and 
that the stamps would not pack well, causing loss of time 
and waste in stock returned to the Department. These 
stamps may be frequently found in the two-cent and three- 
cent varieties today; the others are very scarce. 

In 1877 another idea was actively tried a three-cent 
stamp produced by the Continental Bank Note Company, 
with a design cut clean through the paper a sort of wheel 
made of eight capital LFs, all with the open ends turned 
in towards the axis; the idea being that any attempt to 
remove the stamp whole from the envelope would be fu- 
tile. Less than ten thousand of these stamps were issued, 
all being sold at the Washington post office. As they could 
not easily be detached from the envelope, and as scarcely 
any collectors then were saving the whole cover, these 
stamps are naturally rare today. 

It was after the Civil War that the rage for bizarre can- 
cellations reached its height. Thinking up new designs and 
carving them on the ends of corks became a favorite pas- 
time for postmasters. Geometric designs, stars, shields, 
acorns, flowers, leaves, trees, three- and four-leaved clovers, 
Latin, Greek and Maltese crosses, barrels, boots and shoes, 
comic and grotesque faces by the hundred, skull-and-cross- 
bones, whole animals and fowls or just the heads, "OK," 
"PO," "u s GOVT," "NORTH," "WEST," not to mention letters 
of the alphabet, one, two or three at a time; these are only 
the beginning of the story. 

Chicago in 1873 was using a billiard table, and making 
attempts at picturing a locomotive, some of them unbe- 

Courtesy of "Stamps" 





lievably crude; on another a man smoking a pipe is found; 
another, just the pipe itself with smoke artistically rising. 
Here is a star-and-crescent, here (always in black silhou- 
ette) a cat humping its back, the business end of a pitch- 
fork, a man thumbing his nose, a man with a pack on his 
back. Brattleboro and Meriden each pictured the devil with 
his pitchfork. The postmaster at Waterbury, the watch and 
clock town, outdid everybody around 1870 and for years 
afterward in the wild play of his fancy, and his display of 
folk art has given him enduring fame in philately. He pic- 
tured nearly everything already mentioned, and among his 
scores of novelties were bees of various types, the head of 
an old woman in a sunbonnet, a mortar and pestle, a beer 
stein, an old congress gaiter, a pumpkin and a running chick 
with wildly flapping wings which was one of the hits of 
the era. There was a minstrel song, "Shoo Fly," which was 
very popular in the latter '6o's, and which found its way 
into cancellations, in one case as a crude representation of 
a shoe and a fly. The other fellow having beaten him to 
this clever conception, Waterbury just cut the words, 
"Shoo Fly" on a cork and used that for a while. The word 
"HAYES" probably used during the Presidential campaign of 
1876, also emanates from Waterbury. 

Often cancellations were highly personal. One presents 
the postmaster's name, Frank Lyon, and an animal believed 
to be the gentleman's namesake. Such words as "HARRY," 
"BEAR," "DAY" and "HUB" are not always explainable now. 
Postmasters' lodge emblems are numerous. Sidney F. 
Barrett of New York has a remarkable collection of Ma- 
sonic cancellations, including the familiar square and com- 
pass in many versions and all sorts of situations. The Sigma 
Chi fraternity was evidently pretty influential in Asbury 
(later De Pauw) University between 1861 and 1870, for a 


2X postmark is found on many covers from Greencastle, 
Indiana, during that period. 

Railroads and steamboat lines had their own postmarks 
made in wood or metal; the railroad with its own name, the 
water line whose mail service was at first purely a private 
affair with the name of the boat, sometimes its picture 
also, sometimes with the captain's name added. These are 
made the subjects of some fine collections, and even the 
historian may learn things from them not readily found 
elsewhere. There is an undoubtedly genuine envelope with 
the postmark of a little short-line railroad in far northern 
New York, which Edward Hungerford, the great railroad 
historian who was born up there and knows that region 
as he knows the back of his hand could scarcely bring 
himself to believe had ever operated, even when he saw 
the postmark. And we learn that there was even a little 
steamer carrying mail the sixteen-mile length of Skaneateles 
Lake in New York in 1848; for here is a letter from Glen 
Haven at the head of the lake, postmarked by Skaneateles 
at the other end, also stamped "Steamboat" and "7," which 
shows that the boat got its customary two cents for carrying 
the missive, just like an ocean steamer. 

What a rare field for collecting there is in the ocean mail 
cancellations from the earliest times to these. What stories 
lie back of those postmarks-"Ship letter," "Paquebot," 
"Posted on Board," "Posted on High Seas," "United States 
Sea P.O.," "Southampton Ship Letter." What romance 
and history and tragedy in the mail carried by ships to and 
from California during the Gold Rush and for twenty years 
thereafter, until the Pacific Railroad days; first around the 
Horn, then by muleback across Panama, then by Panama 
Railroad, sometimes in the wars between Commodore 
Variderbilt, Garrison and Ramsey-Carmack across Nica- 


ragua or Tehuantepec, with echoes from the guns of 
William Walker, the "gray-eyed man of destiny," sounding 
overtones above the rest. 

J. Murray Bartels of New York discovered a number of 
years ago that special types of cancellations were used by 
the New York City post office between 1871 and 1876 on 
mail sent to foreign countries, and he began collecting 
them. Others followed his lead. These markings embrace a 
vast assortment of the most intricate and beautiful cancel- 
ing designs in all philatelic history. The great majority are 
round; a rim encircling stars of myriad sorts, wheels, geo- 
metric designs and what may only be described as con- 
ventionalized flowers of many petals these in addition to 
a few odd ideas. There were so many that each design 
could have been in use only briefly. Edwin Milliken, an- 
other collector of them, thinks that more than half of 
them existed only a few days. Somebody in the New 
York post office in those days actually out-Waterburied 
Waterbury in his industry, though in a more artistic way. 
Of some of the rarest patterns, only one or two copies are 
known. In addition to the cancellations, there were numer- 
ous other stampings to gladden the collector's heart; post- 
marks of the numerous transferring cities and ports, "Paid 
All," "Sufficiently Paid," "Insufficiently Paid," "Paid All 
via England and Ostend" and numerous others. When 
the face of the envelope was covered with them, they 
turned it over and continued the story on its back. 

Another field for the collector is the street-car cancella- 
tion. The first street-car mail line was probably the Third 
Avenue cable line in New York, on which white-painted 
mail cars began running in 1895 from the main post office, 
delivering mail to its branch offices along the line uptown. 
Later, in many cities, the street car became a real railway 

Courtesy /. Murray Bartels 



post office and so continued for thirty years and more. As 
it neared a corner mail box, a clerk jumped off, emptied 
the box into a pouch which he carried, this in about thirty 
seconds, and boarded the car again, which did not stop 
running. Clerks in the car sorted the mail, stamped it with 
a postmark reading "RPO" with the name of the line, just 
as on a railway car, bagged and put it off at sub-stations or 
the main office. 

Cancellations and postmarks were usually stamped in 
black ink, but not always. Charles F. Gramm, of Plainfield, 
N. J., great specialist in this line, shows you page after page 
in his albums of stamps all canceled in blue or red or 
purple. He shows you pages of varied shields, others of 
hearts, often pierced by arrows. You learn from his albums 
that the Japanese caught the infection, too; here they are- 
grotesque masks, death's heads, demons. The fantastic can- 
cellations were forbidden by our Post Office Department 
in the latter '70*5, but some of them have come back again 
in recent years. 

August Anderberg of San Francisco has discovered a 
most intriguing branch of collecting in the postmarks of 
towns whose names have been changed! You must have 
a specimen of the postmark both before and after, you see. 
So far, Mr. Anderberg has confined his activities to Europe, 
and with territories being snatched back and forth as they 
are these days, he has his hands full, as may be imagined. 
Not only war, but the recent upsurges of nationalism have 
accounted for many changes. Some famous ones of course 
come to mind at once; Kristiania, Norway, changed to 
Oslo; Constantinople to Istanbul; Angora to Ankara; Pekin 
to Peiping; Petersburg (the Russian never called it St. 
Petersburg) to Petrograd to Leningrad; Queenstown to 


Cobh; Prague (Prag) to Praha; Lemberg to Lwow or Lvoff 
spell it any way you like. 

Ireland, as might be expected, has gone off the deep end 
in digging up old Gaelic jawbreakers. Letters from Dublin 
are now postmarked Baile Atha Cliath; Limerick has be- 
come Luimneach and Tipperary is Tiobraid Arann at 
least, until common sense returns to government. No end 
of confusion has resulted. The Chamber of Commerce of 
Bray, a seaside resort, complained that the town was losing 
its tourist trade because no one recognized it under its new 
name, Bri Chualann. Kemal Pasha was equally absurd in 
rooting out long-historic names such as Smyrna (now 
Izmir) and Adrianople, which has become Edirne. 

Sometimes local citizens rise up so vehemently against 
a change that they succeed in nullifying it; as when the 
citizens of Trondhjem in Norway boiled over in 1930 at 
the government's decree that in the campaign to "elimi- 
nate Danish influences from place names" this large city 
should hereafter be known as Nidaros, the name of an 
ancient settlement in the vicinity. This would be like saying 
to Cincinnati, "Hereafter, your name is Losantiville." The 
hardy Norsemen made such a hubbub that their govern- 
ment, to save face, compromised on Trondheim, and this 
was accepted. H. L. Lindquist of New York, a specialist in 
the philately of his native Norway, lists in his magazine, 
Stamps, dozens of changes which have taken place in 
small-town names of that country Indre Holmedal to 
Bygstad; Kinn to Floro; Bolso to Kleive; Mortensnaes to 
Nyborg, but, thank goodness, they didn't change the name 
of Aaa. We like that best of any of the world's place names, 
because of its simplicity. We don't know how they pro- 
nounce it, unless it's what you say when the throat specialist 


pries your mouth open and asks to see your vocal cords 

The rise and fall of favorite comrades is pictured in 
comic fashion in post-office name changes in Soviet Rus- 
sia. Leningrad still holds, but if the Bolshevik regime is 
overthrown, just watch that name crash! A garrison town 
near Leningrad was in Czarist days known as Gatchina. 
After the revolution it became Trotzk in honor of Comrade 
Trotzky; but when it was discovered that Trotzky was a 
felon of the lowest order, the town became Krasnogvardeisk 
City of the Red Guard. Similarly, Elizabethgrad was re- 
named Zinovievsk, honoring one of the Fathers of the 
Soviet; but when Zinoviev took a hand in the private liqui- 
dation of Sergei Kirov, Soviet boss in Leningrad, the town 
changed names again, this time to Kirovo, in honor of the 

Some towns, such as Dorpat in Esthonia, have had four 
changes of name under different regimes, and many have 
had three in the past few decades. The German name Pres- 
burg, for example, became Pozsony under Hungarian rule 
and Bratislava when the Slavs took it over; Neusohl under 
the same regimes became, first, Beszterczebanya and then 
Banska Bystrica; Weisskirchen changed to Fehertemplon 
and then to Bela Crkva, all three names meaning White- 
church; Karlsburg in German became Gyula Fehervar in 
Hungarian, and Alba Julia when Roumania took it from 
Hungary. The capital of Roumania has suffered no less 
than five changes in spelling. Now that Russia and Ger- 
many are on the loose again, Mr. Anderberg is doubtless 
working nights, for scores of names are being altered once 
more sometimes for the worse, sometimes from the 
American point of view for the better. We deplore the 
Nazi seizure of Poland, but when they change the name of 


Bydgoszcz back to Bromburg, we are with them. As we 
write this, the papers tell us that II Duce has decided that 
the names of no less than thirty-two towns in northwestern 
Italy sound too Frenchy and so is replacing them with 
good, honest Italian words. 

Mr. Anderberg hasn't yet gone into United States towns 
whose names have been changed, but we hope someone 
will do it soon, for here is a vast and fallow field. Think 
of the California gold camps which grew ashamed of their 
first rowdy names, jestingly coined by red-shirted forty- 
niners, and sought something more refined. Jamestown, for 
example, sounded ever so much better than Jimtown; 
Fiddletown dolled itself up as Oneida; Rabbit Creek Dig- 
gings blossomed out as La Porte; Wash had a classicist 
citizen who rechristened it Clio; Mud Springs became 
Eldorado overnight; Poor Man's Flat turned into Windsor, 
McCarthysville into Saratoga, and so on. There have been 
many changes quite as complete in other states, too. 

There have been some amazing metamorphoses of place 
names in America. There was a hamlet down in the Loui- 
siana Territory, near the Ouachita River, which the early 
French settlers named Chemin Couvert. The Americans 
who came later, when the village was in the Territory of 
Arkansas, had difficulty with the pronunciation; Smack 
Cover was as near as they could get, and so the name of 
the post office began to be spelled. But the Post Office 
Department has always had a yearning for shorter, one- 
word names, and so in 1870 the name became Smackover, 
one well remembered in the annals of petroleum. Similarly, 
the Department shortened Tenallytown, near Washington, 
to Tenley. Many changes were quite logical. In Indiana, 
as an instance, were two towns named respectively Harden- 
burg and Hardinsburg; their mail was always getting mixed, 


so Hardenburg was renamed Hay den. By another process, 
that of lazy spelling, Belle Aire, La., gradually decayed 
through Bellaire and Bellair to Belair. 

What an interesting collection this would be! Go back 
and see the waverings of the Post Office over whether to 
spell it Beverly or Beverley, Waverly or Waverley, Belvi- 
dere or Belvedere, whether to put an "i" or an "a" before 
the final "cola" in Apalachicola. Palatka was once Pilatka, 
Cleveland, Ohio, was Cleaveland, according to the post- 
marks, back in the 1830*8. In 1864-65, Fond du Lac's name 
appeared on the postmarks as Fon du Lac. Towns like 
Lambertsville and Johnsonsburg have had the appendix "s" 
removed from their middles. Dozens of places once had a 
now abandoned "City" tacked on behind Denver City, 
Boise City, Shasta City no telling how many more. How 
many covers can be found now that were pounded by the 
old hand postmarkers in the once booming ghost towns of 
Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada and California? The 
east has its ghost towns, too Greenwood Iron Works in 
New York, among many others. 

Which recalls the fact that there are those who "collect 
states" that is, strive to get a cover postmarked at every 
post office, living or dead, in a certain state. One man col- 
lects Michigan, another, Vermont, another, Long Island, 
another, New Jersey north of the Raritan. When you re- 
member that thousands of small, crossroads post offices 
were abolished by the coming of rural free delivery, this 
collection assumes the proportions of a task rather than 
a chore. One recalls four little post offices within a radius 
of eight miles, two of which vanished when the first RFD 
came trotting out in a buggy, while the other two dis- 
appeared a few years later when the automobile more than 
doubled the length of the route. And letters from some of 


those little post offices were scarce, even when they were in 
existence. Post offices are still being discontinued every 
month, and there are those who make a business of obtain- 
ing nicely canceled covers from them just before they close, 
so that collectors in this line may not have to search too 

Which reminds us again that the RFD drivers began to 
sort and cancel their mail, just like railway mail clerks, and 
George W. Bye of Rutledge, Pennsylvania, has a collection 
of more than sixteen hundred varied RFD covers, showing 
many kinds of their postmark stamps; sometimes just RFD 
with the name of the town, sometimes RFD Postal Wagon, 
again with the name of the town and RFD No. 6 under- 
neath. On some covers the number of the route is written 
in with a pen. Brinkleyville, N. G, and Model, Tenn., had 
pictures of the RFD covered spring wagon and horse on 
their canceling stamps. All colors of ink were used, the 
driver apparently following his own taste. 

The United States Board on Geographic Names created 
by President Harrison in 1890 made some drastic changes. 
If you will look back to mid-nineteenth century, you will 
find a terminal "h" on many such names as Chambers- 
burgh, Ogdensburgh, and Petersburgh. The Board in 1900 
amputated all these "h's," and also the "ugh" from bor- 
ough, so that Middlesborough, Ky., like others of that ilk, 
became Middlesboro. But Pittsburgh, like Trondhjem, 
arose in wrath and demanded its "h" back, and it alone, 
among American cities, was big enough to win the argu- 
ment with the government. The Board around the turn of 
the century also knocked out many "c's" and replaced them 
with "k's" among others, the one in Tuscaloosa. The citi- 
zens took it meekly for a while, but finally began a steady 
pressure to get that "c" back, and succeeded. But mean- 


while, a new courthouse had been built, and it still has the 
name "Tuskaloosa County" carved on its fagade, though 
the post office has long been postmarking letters "Tusca- 

What stories some of these old postmarks tell of great 
moments of the past! Fancy the thrills in looking now and 
then, as A. J. H. Richardson does, at a cover in one's col- 
lection mailed in Paris late in the Reign of Terror, when 
heads were still falling at the word of Robespierre and St. 
Just and Fouquier-Tinville; a letter bearing the frank of 
the Comite de Salut Public (Committee of Public Safety), 
dated, "i4th Germinal, Year 2" that is, April 3d, 1794, 
just nine days after the execution of Hebert and only two 
days before Desmoulins and the giant Danton went to the 

Or, in one's own country, there was Dr. Chase's Indian 
Territory collection, with its postmarks from the Cherokee, 
Choctaw, Chickasaw and Seminole Nations, a valuable and 
unique historical exhibit. Or Harry Konwiser's Texas Re- 
public collection, with its franks of President Sam Houston 
and General Winfield Scott, its cancellations by the post 
office of the agent of the Texas Republic in New Orleans, 
the only instance in history of a foreign country's having a 
post office on United States soil. Here we find that a letter 
of 1841 from Tuscaloosa, Ala., to Montgomery, Texas, 
cost eighteen and three-quarter cents postage from the 
sending point to New Orleans, and a dollar-fifty the rest of 
the way! 

But for strange odysseys of mail, one must look at the 
early days of British Columbia's history, when it had no 
direct connection with the Canadian colonies further east- 
ward. Here is an envelope of 1857 literally covered with 
markings. It traveled from London to New York and from 


New York to Colon by ships postmarks telling the story 
across the Isthmus by rail, thence by ship to San Francisco 
and by another to Portland, Oregon; from Portland went 
to Steilacoom by stage and from Steilacoom to Victoria by 
Hudson Bay courier boat, probably manned by Indians. It 
took three months to complete the journey. 

Alfred Lichtenstein's great collection of British Colum- 
bia is full of things like that, the stuff of which novels are 
made. For years, all mail from England or eastern Canada 
to British Columbia or vice versa had to pass through the 
United States and carry some United States stamps, in 
addition to those of the other countries. There were the 
expressmen, too, operating up to the mines in British Co- 
lumbia, who might add their hand stamps to the rest. 
United States stamps actually came to be sold at the post 
office in Victoria; but sometimes they ran out of stock, 
and cash had to be sent with the letter to the British consul 
in San Francisco, who would buy and affix the United 
States stamps. So complicated was the matter of postage 
that sample envelopes were prepared, showing just what 
had to be done, and Mr. Lichtenstein has one in his collec- 
tion, with the printed slip still inside, saying, "To secure 
dispatch, a letter from British Columbia for England 
should be enclosed in an envelope stamped in this manner." 

But still queerer sometimes was the fact that a letter 
from our Washington Territory traveled through British 
Columbia. In the Lichtenstein collection we see one which 
went from Olympia via Victoria, perhaps because of some 
convenient boat-sailing to San Francisco, and so to Lon- 
don. Another comes back from London, via Panama and 
San Francisco to Victoria, and the addressee is at "Steila- 
coom, Washington Territory, Oregon!" 

A few years ago the pre-canceled stamp appeared, and 


presently some of the younger collectors became interested. 
Then came letters stamped by printed permit and by 
meter machine, and the circle of fans widened. Cancella- 
tions became an advertising medium, and another enor- 
mous new field was thrown open. Monographs had been 
written on these slogan cancellations, catalogues of them 
have been compiled. We believe we have seen the first ad- 
vertising cancellation though it is not a cancellation in 
postal history, in the collection of George B. Sloane of 
New York. It is an ax head stamped on a letter of 1833, 
mailed at Collinsville, Conn., seat of the Collins ax fac- 
tory for generations. It is not a cancellation, for there were 
no stamps for it to deface; but it was nevertheless an ad- 
vertisement, just as much as the present-day turkey can- 
cellation of Cuero, Texas, the Yale bulldog of New Haven, 
the copper smelter of Clarkdale, Arizona, and the bucking 
bronco of Prescott. 

Today, every country in the world is ballyhooing through 
its postmarks "Visit Sunny Australia," "Haitian Coffee is 
Best," "Buy Cuban Sugar," "Buy Irish Goods," "Baden- 
Baden Sells Cheaply," "Come to Bermuda, the Isles of 
Rest," "Buy Siam Rice," "Holiday this Year in Canada," 
"Nice ses Alpes Perfumees et sa Cote Fleurie," "Drive 
Oregon Highways," "Come to Atlanta Dogwood Festival," 
"Green asparagus for Flavor," "Hello! I am from Holly, 
Michigan," "Visit Corpus Christi," "Visit Mobile's Azalea 
Trail," "Eat Meat, Quality Up, Prices Down," "By All 
Means, live Electrically," "Eat Bananas, Always Good, Al- 
ways Available," '"Own a Canary," "It takes Needles to 
Make Shirts." There are thousands of them and new ones 
are appearing all the time. Recreation, efficiency, social 
welfare, government, what not, are being "sold" through 
cancellations: "It pays to play," "Justice for Genius," 


"Prompt Payment will help Lower Taxes," "Your Tax 
Dollar gives you Security, Health, Protection, Education, 
Recreation." One of the noteworthy things is that can- 
cellations are being made the medium for a world-wide 
campaign for safe automobile driving: "Drive Carefully, 
Save Lives," "Safety or Sudden Death?" "The Higher the 
Speed, the Worse the Accident," "There can be no excuse 
for Bad Driving," "Courtesy Prevents Accidents," "U. S. 
Auto Toll is 3000 Deaths every Month. Stop Killing!" 
"Cautious Drivers are Always Survivors," "Drive Carefully, 
Accidents Must Stop." Whether it is doing any good or 
not, the Post Office keeps hammering. 


'o SOONER was the postal 


service created by gov- 


ernments in Europe in 
the seventeenth century than kings, nobles, counselors and 
legislators began to say, "Now, look here! We can't be 
expected to pay this what do you call it? postage, on 
anything. That would be too absurd! Look who we are." 
And so they didn't pay any postage; and thus it has been 
from that day to this, even in the democracies. 

It is true that when England first set up a national postal 
system in 1660 there were high-minded men who objected 
on principle to a franking privilege, even for themselves. 
Of course it was understood that the monarch and all his 
cousins and his uncles and his aunts must have their mail 
carried free; that was already being done by such haphazard 
posts as were then raggedly functioning. And of course the 
king's ministers, some of whom actually did most of his 
thinking for him they ought to be favored, too. But when 
a franking clause for members of Commons was inserted 
in the Parliamentary bill of 1660 which created a na- 
tional post for England Sir Heneage Finch opposed it, 
calling it "a poor, mendicant proviso, and below the honor 
of the House." The Speaker, Sir Harbottle Grimstone, 
refused for some time to put the question, saying that he 



felt ashamed of it. (Does any American Congressman blush 
now as he franks a campaign document?) But a large 
majority of the Commons were already eager for a taste 
of the gravy, and when the bill was put to vote, it was 
carried by a huge majority. Commons had erred, however, 
in making no provision for noblemen's letters, and so, when 
the bill reached the Lords, it was of course thrown out. 
This made it necessary for the two Houses to get together 
on the subject, and presently the bill emerged with both 
Lords and Commons on the free list. 

So enthusiastically did the fortunate frank holders take 
advantage of the privilege that within a few years one finds 
bales of clothing, cases of bacon and hams, kegs and bar- 
rels of liquor, hunting dogs, even "two servant maids going 
as laundresses to my Lord Ambassador Methuen" and "Dr. 
Crichton carrying with him a cow and divers other necessi- 
ties." And as for letters, a member of Parliament would 
write his name on a sheet of letter paper for anybody who 
had a pull or was of the right political complexion or 
properly introduced, and the wonder is that any postage 
was paid at all. In Smollett's Humphrey Clinker, published 
in 1771, Mrs. Winifred Jenkins, a maid, begins a letter to 
her chum, Mary Jones, with "Lady Griskin's butler, Mr. 
Crumb, having got Squire Barton to frank me a kiver, I 
would not neglect to let you know how it is with me and 
the rest of the family," which proves that the word "cover" 
was being used a century and a half ago somewhat as phi- 
latelists use it now. Again and again Jenkins naively begins, 
"Having got a frank, I now return your favor." 

It was therefore quite natural that when our Conti- 
nental Congress began to sit in 1775 it was not long before 
it had bestowed the franking privilege upon its own mem- 
bers. In 1782 the favor was granted to the signers of the 


Declaration of Independence, the commander in chief of 
the armies and several heads of army departments, and 
the heads of the Departments of War, Finance and For- 
eign Affairs. After the present government was set up, it 
was given to the Presidents for life, the Vice-Presidents, 
cabinet members, Congressmen, and gradually to all the 
brass hats in the various government departments as well 
as the army and navy. 

But as it was extended to more and more government 
functionaries, it became a burden. In the first few years of 
the republic even political privilegees were pretty decent 
in their use of the frank, but later newcomers quickly real- 
ized its infinite possibilities. A New Jersey Congressman 
in Jackson's administration rode his horse down to Wash- 
ington when Congress opened, and franked it back home, 
the animal trotting all the way behind the mail coach. 
Whether he expected the Post Office Department to feed 
it en route we cannot discover. This gives a hint as to why 
Old Hickory disliked the whole system. He pointed out in 
1834, when he was President, that the Post Office had lost 
a hundred-thousand dollars in a year, largely because of 
franking, and urged but in vain that the practice be 

England in 1840 gave us an object lesson in honesty. 
With the introduction of penny postage, Parliament totally 
abolished all franking whiff! just like that. But our Con- 
gressmen were not quite big enough for such action. In 
1844-45 they made some feeble gesture toward "correct- 
ing" the evil, but by that time the age of pie and plums 
and gravy had a strong hold upon us, and no real progress 
could be made. In fact, the progress was in the other direc- 
tion. Within a few years Congressmen were sending boxes 


and trunks by mail, franking their laundry home to be 
washed, scribbling or rubber-stamping their names on 
whole packs of envelopes for constituents. 

Cartoon from Harper's Weekly, j 860 




The franking of the heavy freight and baggage was 
brought to an end on July i, 1870, but that of purely politi- 
cal letters and propaganda continues to this day. Not only 
are the assessment and collection of political contributions 
and orders to vote this way or that promulgated by mail, 


but all sorts of private matters of the privilegees. The writer 
of these lines received a request from the dean of a great, 
richly endowed state university in 1933 for the gift of one 
of his books for the university library one of those gimme 
letters with which authors are continually pestered and 
it was franked in an envelope of the National Recovery 
Administration "Penalty for private use, $300." 

A frequent writer for the American Journal of Philately 
who signed his articles as "Cosmopolitan/' suggested in 
1869 that the collection of franks would make an interest- 
ing new branch of philately. Whether he took his own ad- 
vice we do not know, but the fact is that almost nobody else 
did for forty years and more afterward; in fact, nobody went 
in for it seriously until well into the twentieth century, and 
even today good collections of franks are few. The neglect 
of it during those intervening decades has caused us to 
lose many valuable specimens some of them in those holo- 
causts put on by a certain type of mind dominated by the 
notion that anything old, anything that accumulates in 
attic or cellar, ought to be burned and gotten out of exist- 
ence. It has also caused us to lose the autograph franks of 
some Presidents who served in the period from the 'yo's 
onward; for in 1873 stamps were issued to the various gov- 
ernment departments, including the executive, each in its 
own design, with which to post letters at the regular rates; 
so from that day it was no longer necessary for President 
Grant to autograph his envelopes. The stamps were super- 
seded in 1877 by the present "penalty envelope/' A Presi- 
dent might still frank a letter by writing his name on the 
corner, but this became less and less common. Twentieth- 
century Presidents haven't been doing it at all save rarely 
in these latter years for collectors. 

Two of the greatest collections of franks are those of 


Edward Stern of New York and Philip H. Ward, Jr., of 
Philadelphia. Both are finer essays in a certain fixed cate- 
gory than you may find in most historical societies. Mr. 
Ward seems to have started it first. He began collecting 
autographs just any big-name autographs when he was a 
boy of eight or nine, living in Washington. Those were 
Spanish War and Philippine pacification days, and he in- 
gratiated himself with newspapermen and government 
officials who helped him to get many war-hero autographs, 
including that of Aguinaldo, the rebel leader. Along with 
the correspondents he even got into the White House, 
which wasn't so hard to do in those days as now, and 
wangled President McKinley's autograph and Mrs. but 
well tell that later. 

In fact, from what he says, life must have been pretty 
jolly for a boy in Washington then, who knew his way 
around and had a little nerve. Why, you could even go 
into the State, War and Navy Building, just across from 
the White House or 'most any other government building 
and make the rounds of the offices, saying, "Mister, kin 
I have a few rubber bands?" until finally you had your 
pockets full, enough to make a rubber ball. You started 
with a bottle-cork for a center and just snapped the bands 
on around it until the ball was as big as you liked (some 
boys had them larger than baseballs); and Mr. Ward as- 
sures us that they would bounce yards higher than any- 
thing you can buy in the stores now. Or when the need 
arose, you went into an office and said, "Mr. Smith, you 
got a pencil to spare?" and there was your nice, new, un- 
sharpened pencil. Great days, those were. 

Anyhow, little Phil Ward soon found that autographed 
letters were more valuable than mere signatures on a piece 
of paper, and he began gunning for letters. Among others, 


he solicited former President Cleveland, then living at 
Princeton, and received from him a charming little note, 
all written in Cleveland's small, angular script: 

Princeton, Jan. 5, 1900. 

I am not sure that a letter written and signed by 
me will add to the value of your collection. I am, how- 
ever, rather partial to boys, and quite apt to do what 
they ask of me. 

Yours truly, 


Sixteen years afterward, when it was too late, Mr. Ward 
used to kick himself around the block because it hadn't 
occurred to him to ask the statesman to frank the letter. 
But a collection of Presidential franks was something he 
had never heard of; in fact, there wasn't any such thing 
then. Ward caught the idea when he ran across an envelope 
franked by President Lincoln while he was shopping for 
autographed letters in 1916. Already a stamp collector of 
long standing, he said to himself at once, Why not a col- 
lection of these? And so it began. Mr. Stern took it up a 
few years later, and by his tardiness missed getting franks 
of Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt, which 
Ward has. 

Both these collections have franks of Presidents' widows, 
as well as Presidents; for from Martha Washington's time 
to the present it has been the custom for Congress to grant 
the frank to the widow of a former President. But Stern 
also goes after Vice-Presidents, all cabinet members from 
the earliest times, signers of the Declaration and members 
of the Continental Congress. He quails, however, before 


the thought of trying to collect the members of Congress 
since the setting up of the republic. Getting the hundreds 
of cabinet officers is tough enough, what with thirty or 
forty of them sometimes in one eight-year Presidency. Jack- 
son, for example, had in fairly rapid succession seven or 
eight Secretaries of the Treasury. 

Mr. Stern also collects Presidents at all stages of their 
careers; for a President must come up through an ascending 
scale of political offices or from the army after a war; navy 
men, apparently, are not eligible. So, if you like to toil at 
that sort of thing, you begin collecting him when he first 
received the frank, that is, as a member of the national 
House of Representatives, Auditor or Register of the Treas- 
ury, Comptroller of the Currency or some other political 
primer grade; then if he went through those stages as 
Senator, cabinet member (all capacities), Vice-President. 
Timothy Pickering, for example, was Postmaster-General, 
Secretary of War and Secretary of State under Washington 
and Secretary of State under John Adams; and if you are a 
real thirty-third degree collector of franks, you will get him 
under all circumstances. If he was a military hero, he would 
have had the frank in peace time as Adjutant General, 
Commissary General, Quartermaster General, real General; 
in war time, at much lower rank. Mr. Stern has one of 
Zachary Taylor, "on service/' while a mere lieutenant- 
colonel. Lincoln also had the distinction, unique among 
Presidents, of having been postmaster at New Salem, 111., 
1833-36; and postmasters in those days had the franking 
privilege. Years ago there was a letter-sheet, franked thus 
by Lincoln, in the hands of a New York collector; but it 
passed out of his possession, and philatelists do not know 
where it is now. 


Finally, you collect the frank of the President after he 
has retired; for he has the privilege to the end of his days; 
and in the case of John Quincy Adams there is another 
stage, for he went back into Congress after leaving the 
Presidency. So did Andrew Johnson, but by that time the 
inscribed frank was no longer necessary. 

Of some Presidents these collectors have several franked 
covers. Mr. Stern's picture of John Adams's career is par- 
ticularly noteworthy, for of our second President he has 
no less than eight franks, covering fifty years of his lifetime 
two as signer of the Declaration and member of the 
Continental Congress, four while President and two after 
retirement; the first dated 1776, shortly after he had signed 
the Declaration, the last only four months before his death, 
when he was ninety years old, and when his poor, palsied 
old signature was almost illegible. For some years before 
this, someone else had been writing the letters, Mr. Adams 
contributing only the signature within and the frank with- 

At last accounts, Mr. Stern had four franks of Washing- 
tontwo while President, and two after retirement, in 1798 
and 1799, all addressed in his own hand. Some who have 
not gone into the matter might think that Washington's 
franks would be the most costly of all. But not so; price is 
usually fixed by scarcity. Washington was a voluminous 
and tireless correspondent, and today we can scarcely com- 
prehend how he found time and energy to do all the writ- 
ing he did. Mr. Stern says that the franks of at least six 
other ante-i873 Presidents while in office are rarer than 
Washington's; namely, those of William Henry Harrison 
(who lived only one month after inauguration and was 
ill a part of that time, making his frank the scarcest of all), 


next, Lincoln's, then in the order named, Zachary Taylor, 
Andrew Johnson and James Monroe. Franks by most of 
these while in other capacities are not so rare. 

Mr. Ward has the only frank of William Henry Harri- 
son while President that the author has heard of. It is 
dated March loth, 1841, just six days after he took the 
oath. Stern so far has had to be content with a frank of 
Harrison as a Congressman. Lincoln's frank is rare because 
in his administration, for the first time, the President's 
secretary was by law given the right to frank the Execu- 
tive's mail; and Lincoln was too much occupied with the 
cares of the war to spend time in addressing and franking 
many envelopes. These now began to be printed with 
"From the President of the United States" near the top, 
then a space, and the word, "Secretary," over which in 
Lincoln's time one usually found the signature, "Jno. G. 
Nicolay" or "John Hay." A variant of this envelope had 
the words, "Executive Mansion" above the "Secretary." In 
Grant's time came the envelope with a printed address to 
the Secretary of State or other department head, and up 
in the corner in plain Roman type, "From the President." 

Envelopes were introduced into the United States in 
1842 as "the latest European novelty"; at first with un- 
gummed flaps, though Yankee ingenuity soon added that. 
They were not liked at first were considered a freakish 
fad which wouldn't last. Stationers wouldn't push their 
sale, fearing that the trade in wax and seals would be in- 
jured. For a long time the use of envelopes in private 
correspondence was considered as showing a lack of respect 
to the addressee. 

So up to 1842 all letters, and for some time thereafter 
many letters, were just written on one side of a sheet of 


paper which was then folded over so as to enclose the 
writing, and the edges sealed with wax or wafers. There- 
fore, the person who has a Presidential frank dated before 
1845 or '50 is apt to have the whole letter of the great man 
as well. Some will be interested in those bearing upon 
political or governmental subjects; but most of us turn 
quite as eagerly to the ones which deal with private and 
family affairs, the minutiae which comprise so large a part 
of the mosaic of life. For example, one of Mr. Stern's letters 
from Washington, while the national capital was at Phila- 
delphia, written to his overseer at Mount Vernon, reveals 
anxiety over the following summer's mint juleps: 

My letter of yesterday's date, was closed, and sent 
to the Post Office, before it occurred to me, to enquire 
whether you have taken advantage of the present frost 
to store the House with Ice. Do not neglect to have 
it well filled, and well pounded, as it is filling. Ice, 
put in whilst the weather is intensely cold, keeps better 
than that which is taken up in more moderate weather 
and still more so, than that, which is in a state of 
dissolution But if you have not already embraced the 
present spell, you must take such as you can get, or 
you will probably get none, as it is not likely, that 
there will be a hard freezing spell, after the middle 
of this month. 

I am Yr. friend &c. 


A frank of Washington in Mr. Ward's collection covers 
a letter written by Tobias Lear, his private secretary after 
the President's retirement, and shows us how, in those 
days, you read your newspapers and magazines first and 


paid for them afterward. The letter is addressed to Colonel 
Biddle, Washington's banker at Philadelphia: 


General Washington requests you will be so good as 
to pay Mr. Fenno's account for Newspapers which 
have been furnished him, whenever the same shall be 
presented, and charge it to the General's account. 
With very great esteem 
I am dear Sir 
Your most Obt Servt 


Mr. Stern has a letter of Jefferson's to a functionary at 
Monticello, specifying the disposition of a check for $360 
which he encloses, and warning that some other bills must 
wait, for he can send no more money next month, "no 
matter how pressing the demands may be. I shall be glad 
to hear," he goes on, "how my horse's lameness is, and 
your progress at the milldam. When that is done, Maddox 
must begin his work & will want attendance. I presume by 
that time you will have the other waggon from Bedford," 
and so on. 

A pleasant little letter from President Madison to his 
mother is one of Stern's treasures: 


Sister Rose informs me that you wish a remittance 
of $400. I enclose a check in favor of Capt. Eddows 
who will save you all trouble by endorsing and nego- 
tiating it. I presume he will be able to convert it into 
cash readily on the usual terms. 

Dolly is again pretty well. She has been several times 
latterly & for some continuance, much otherwise, more 


than once seriously sick. We learn with great pleasure 
that your health has been but little affected through- 
out the winter, and hope this will find it remaining 


Yr. Affc. son, 


Feb. 25, 1816. 

Individual forms of franking are interesting. While 
Washington was in the army he added "Public Service" 
to his signature in addressing governmental officials. Evi- 
dently he didn't relish that word, "Free," and in earlier 
years never used it in franking, as so many others did. 
Franklin playfully welded it into his signature, "B. Free 
Franklin." While President, Washington merely wrote 
"President U. S." in the lower left hand corner of the let- 
ter. After his retirement he wrote "Free. G. Washington" 
or with the variant of his signature, "G Washington," 
though sometimes instead of "Free" he wrote "By Post." 

One finds Franklin addressing a letter to "Mrs. Frank- 
lin, Philadelphia," in perfect confidence that the signature 
in the lower corner would tell the Post Office which Mrs. 
Franklin was meant. John Adams, with equal nonchalance, 
addressed letters to "Mrs. Adams, Quincy," blandly assum- 
ing that that was the only Quincy in the nation. True, it is 
probably the only one called by the natives "Quinzy," as if 
it were a disease. On one occasion, however, old John did 
condescend to give the Post Office a tip, naming it as 
"Quincy, near Boston." 

The postal service was expected to be very intelligent 
and alert in those days. One of Washington's letters in his 
later years is addressed just to "Maj. Harrison, Loudoun 
County." Undoubtedly the major was a big enough man 


to warrant such confidence. But a man who wrote to Jef- 
ferson and gave his address as just "Richmond" was less 
prominent, and the great democrat was much puzzled over 
where to send the reply. He might have exclaimed with 
Richard III, "I think there be six Richmonds in the field," 
had he not found upon investigation that there were al- 
ready fifteen Richmonds in the United States. After much 
study of the letter, he decided that it had probably come 
from Richmond, Vermont, and so directed his reply there. 
But he had guessed wrong. The addressee was "not known" 
there, and notwithstanding Jefferson's frank in the corner, a 
stamped notation on it shows that the letter was sent by 
the automata who drew salaries as postal functionaries to 
the Dead Letter Office, from which it finally limped back 
to the sage of Monticello. 

Funny little incidents come to light as one pores over 
a collection like this. President Pierce (1853-57) was once 
vacationing in Bermuda and, writing a letter to a friend 
back in the States, just wrote his name in the upper corner 
from force of habit and dropped the missive into a mail 
box. Back it came from the Post Office. Sorry; Mr. Pierce's 
mere autograph might have considerable postal influence 
in the United States, but the laws seemed to prevent its 
having any potency in a British colony. So the President 
stuck a portrait of Queen Victoria over his signature and 
sent it back to the Post Office, perhaps with his face as red 
as on that day when he and Mrs. Pierce and a lady guest, 
driving on the Virginia side of the Potomac, came to a toll 
gate and found that neither the President nor the ladies 
nor the coachman had one solitary sixpence in pocket with 
which to pay toll. 

Years after President Tyler retired from the Presidency- 
it was in 1858, to be exact an admirer wrote to him, ask- 


ing for his autograph, enclosing a self-addressed, stamped 
envelope as everyone should when asking authors, et al., 
for favors either forgetting or being unaware that ex-Presi- 
dents have the frank. Mr. Tyler was aware of it, however, 
and when he very courteously replied from Sherwood 
Forest, his country estate you may see it today, down on 
the Virginia Peninsula he carefully steamed the stamp 
off its serrate mark is still there on the envelope in the 
Stern collection, as plain as can be wrote his frank, 
"J. Tyler," across the former place of the stamp and sent 
the letter on. Now, whether Mr. Tyler thought the man 
would be still more gratified by having a frank from him, 
or whether he just wanted that three-cent stamp, is a ques- 
tion that can never be settled. 

Mr. Stern, by the way, has more than twenty of Tyler's 
franks most of them on letters addressed to kinsmen and 

One finds Presidents and former Presidents before 1850 
writing upon all sorts of paper; and of course, as explained, 
the letter-sheet became also the envelope. Not only white 
of various grades, but queer grays, yellows, browns some 
of it palpably off a shopkeeper's counter blue, green and 
what not. A letter of President Van Buren is written on a 
deep-green sheet, while one of John Adams when he was 
President, addressed to Benjamin Stoddart, Secretary of 
the Navy, is scrivened upon honest brown wrapping paper. 

How many of the earlier Presidents used just the single 
initial in franking! J. Adams, M. Van Buren, J. Tyler, 
Z. Taylor, M. Fillmore, A. Lincoln. Jefferson signed "Th. 
Jefferson, Pr. U.S." John Quincy Adams used only the 
initials of his Christian names, and his "J" looks so much 
like an "I" that one is reminded of a popular, semi-scien- 
tific indoor sport of today. J. K. Polk's tiny signature winds 


ter from 
ent Jack- 
his adop- j 
n. Notice j 
:tions to 
ling post- 


* -4Hi 

nm Frank- 
ijoyed the 
both as 
er of the 
icntal Con- 
and signer 
his playful 
ire, "B. Free 

he frank 
signer of 


f|)rraiHruf uf tin* Ituttcft Statrs . 

A page from Philip H. Ward, Jr/s, album of presidential 
franks. He mounts stamps which have carried the president's 


up in a little paraph like a coil spring. Pierce signed in 
three ways Franklin (rarest), Frank., or Frank . Johnson 
was the only one to sign in retirement, "Andrew Johnson, 
Ex Pres U S." It is noticeable that Lincoln's franks and 
the signatures to the great majority of his letters read 
"A Lincoln," while in state papers, proclamations, and offi- 
cial writings he wrote the "Abraham" in full. Old John 
Adams, with characteristic bullheadedness, usually plumped 
his signature down almost in the middle of the cover, a little 
below the center, where it was mixed in with the address. 
General Taylor seems to have franked some envelopes 
ahead of time and left them with his secretary, for at least 
one has been seen lately, unused. 

With the autograph frank rendered no longer necessary 
in Grant's latter years, only the White House envelope 
being needed to carry the Presidential mail free, there 
came an hiatus, dreadful to present-day collectors, when 
franks practically vanished from the political scene. You 
may find plenty of franks of Hayes and Garfield as mem- 
bers of Congress, but try to find one of either as President! 
Benjamin Harrison and McKinley entered Congress too 
late to use the personal frank, and Cleveland held no office 
before the Presidency which entitled him to the privilege. 
A Long Island collector, Sidney A. Hessel, has a frank of 
President Arthur which is probably unique, and one of 
Theodore Roosevelt which is almost as rare. Ward also has 
Roosevelt. Stern has him as Vice-President, but not as 

By that time the autograph and stamp collectors were 
swinging into action. Ward, then a youth, though he had 
actually begun his frank collection, induced his friend, 
Senator Philander Knox, to obtain President Taft's frank, 
and it appears in the Ward collection on an envelope ad- 


dressed to Knox. Mr. Ward next went after President 
Wilson and wrought upon him for more than two years 
before attaining success. When you ask a twentieth-century 
President for his frank, he or more likely, his secretary 
doesn't as a rule know what you mean, and is apt just to 
have an ordinary White House envelope addressed and 
sent to you. 

President Wilson was offish, and seemed to suspect that 
Ward wanted the frank for some commercial purpose. 
Finally, Mr. Ward sent his collection of franks, as far as 
it had gone then, down for the President's inspection. 
When it came back, try to imagine the collector's joy when 
he found with it an envelope which had duly gone through 
the mail at Washington, addressed to Secretary of War 
Baker, bearing the President's frank and addressed in the 
small type and greenish-black ribbon peculiar to Mr. Wil- 
son's own personal machine, so it would appear that he 
even tapped out the address with his own fingers. Mr. 
Ward assumes that the President looked over his collection 
with Secretary Baker, and observing that Taft's franked 
letter was addressed to a cabinet officer, decided to follow 
his example. 

Incidentally, Mr. Stern also has Taft as Chief Justice. 
Later Presidents have obliged the collectors upon request, 
though the present one is said to be very difficult. 

After Washington died, the desire to honor him was so 
great that a proposal was made, among others, to extend 
the franking privilege to his widow, and this was done by 
Congress on April 3, 1800. This set a precedent, and ever 
afterward the privilege was extended to the wives who sur- 
vived Presidents or former Presidents. No blanket law to 
this effect has ever been enacted, a special Act of Congress 
being required in each case. But for generations, Congress 


waited dignifiedly for each widow to ask for the privilege 
which she usually did immediately before granting it. Two 
widows of earlier days refused to ask it Julia Gardiner, 
second wife of President Tyler, daughter of a proud New 
York family whose manorial domain, Gardiner's Island, at 
the east end of Long Island, has been in the family for 300 
years and Eliza McCray Johnson, whose feeling toward 
the legislative body which had tried to unseat her husband 
was apparently such that she could ask no favors of it. 

No collector, so far as we know, has ever succeeded in 
laying hands on a franked letter of Martha Washington, 
but there are fine specimens of Dolly Madison's corre- 
spondence, franked in characteristically original, business- 
like fashion, "Free. D. P. Madison." An interesting pecu- 
liarity of her signature is the straight, horizontal, basic line 
with which each letter is joined to the succeeding one, 
so that the writing looks almost as if a ruled line had been 
drawn along the base, giving it the strong individuality 
which might be expected from the hand of one of the 
finest, most original personalities among the ladies of the 
White House. 

Mrs. John Quincy Adams also used only initials in frank- 
ing "L. C. Adams." Her letter in the Stern collection is 
addressed to the scholar-orator, Edward Everett, whose 
florid two-hour address at Gettysburg so overshadowed 
Lincoln's that some of the newspapers merely remarked 
that "The President also spoke a few words." Most earlier 
widows did not write or indicate by an initial their maiden 
names, as is done now, but just wrote in many instances, 
Anna Harrison, Sarah Polk or Mary Lincoln though Mr. 
Stern has also a cover franked "Mrs. J. K. Polk," and Lin- 
coln's widow sometimes signed, "Mrs. A. Lincoln" or just 
"Mrs. Lincoln." The simple "Grace Coolidge" shows a 


return to the earlier style, though with Mrs. Benjamin 
Harrison came the fashion of signing the name in full- 
Mary Lord Harrison, Edith Boiling Wilson, Florence Kling 

The rare franks of Ida Saxton McKinley are a curious 
study the writing almost microscopic in its smallness, an 
uncertain scrawl crowded against the upper edge of the 
envelope. Mrs. McKinley was in such feeble health that 
she could scarcely hold a pen and therefore seldom franked 
a letter, preferring to use stamps instead. In this connec- 
tion Mr. Ward tells an interesting incident, already hinted 
at. When he was an insistent autograph hunter, aged ten, 
he got into the White House during the McKinley admin- 
istration, and found there Mrs. Grant, the General's widow, 
calling on Mrs. McKinley. Mrs. Grant gave him her auto- 
graph at once, but Mrs. McKinley would only promise to 
send him hers by mail. Within two or three days there 
came a photograph of the McKinley home at Canton, with 
inset portraits of the President and his wife probably a 
campaign picture and her name inscribed across the bot- 
tom; but she hadn't written it. It had plainly been done 
by the faithful husband, that great exemplar of wedded 
love and loyalty, who took every possible care and burden 
off her frail shoulders. 

Which reminds us that George B. Sloane of New York 
has an envelope of Mrs. Harding's, sent out during her 
last illness, in fact, only two weeks before she died in 
1924, and bearing the unique wording, "Private Frank, 
Florence Kling Harding," written by another hand than 
her own. The post office at Marion was evidently aware 
of the circumstances and passed the letter through. Mr. 
Sloane also has a franked letter of Mrs. Grant's which 
proves that the receiving post office either did not know 


who Julia D. Grant was or had never heard of the franking 
privilege, for it stuck a postage-due stamp on the envelope 
and made the recipient pay up. 

Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt's franks are not hard to obtain, 
for she writes many letters and uses the frank extensively. 
When she sends a check down to her butcher or grocer in 
Oyster Bay, he opens the letter carefully, for he has a 
salable article there. In these cases she always writes her 
name "Edith K. Roosevelt"; but finding that on certain 
rare occasions she has written it "Edith C. Roosevelt" 
her name before marriage was Edith Kermit Carow the 
alert Mr. Stern wrote to her, asking if he might not have 
a cover franked with the "C," to which she retorted that 
she franked that way only when writing to her own per- 
sonal friends. Speaking of little eccentricities- 
Mrs. Woodrow Wilson is in bad standing among collec- 
tors, for she is the first President's widow to obtain the 
right to have a rubber stamp facsimile of her signature 
made for franking her letters, and that isn't considered 
cricket. Collectors complain that when you send a self- 
addressed envelope to her, asking for the little boon, some- 
times she ignores the request, sometimes the cover comes 
back with that damned rubber stamp on it, maybe put 
there by her secretary who knows? It just isn't nice, that's 
all! Some collectors are even beginning to doubt that Mr. 
Wilson was the great statesman he was supposed to be. 

In the present century, widows never ask for the frank, 
and Congress has fallen into the habit of granting it un- 
asked. But it took the lawmakers some time to get the 
notion, for Mrs. Benjamin Harrison, who proudly though 
privately declared that she wanted nothing from the gov- 
ernment, neither frank nor pension, stamped her letters 
for eight years before Congress granted her the privilege. 


It was given to her and Mrs. Cleveland on the same day 
in 1909, and they have now used it for thirty years. Inci- 
dentally, it may be pointed out that the latter must of 
course be collected both as Mrs. Cleveland and Mrs. Fol- 

Several widows of Presidents have long outlived their 
husbands. Mrs. Madison had the use of the frank for thir- 
teen years, Mrs. Lincoln for more than sixteen, Mrs. Grant 
nearly seventeen, Mrs. William Henry Harrison though 
in such poor health that she did not go to Washington 
during her husband's brief span of office, and consequently 
never presided in the White House had it for twenty- 
three and a half years, and Mrs. Polk tall, stately, brunette 
intellectual who was not only a social queen in the White 
House, but the only President's wife who was also his secre- 
tarylost her husband immediately after the end of his 
single term, and for forty-one years and seven months 
thereafter franked her letters from the old mansion on 
Capitol Hill in Nashville, dying at last in 1891, a relic of 
another age. 

Collections such as those of Messers Ward and Stem 
are real museum pieces. The title pages and the data on 
each subject are beautifully hand-lettered and decorated. 
In the Stern collection, a portrait of the President or widow, 
either one of those fine old steel engravings of the past 
or a photograph, is on the upper part of the page, with the 
franked letter below it. In the Ward albums the portraits 
and franks are on alternate pages; while underneath the 
frank are mounted some of our stamps bearing the portrait 
of this particular President, made from the official or au- 
thorized portrait which, until the recent "Presidential 
series" came out, usually prevailed in stamp making. 

Can anyone present identify Ralph Izard? Or Jonathan 


Blanchard or John E. Howard or Nicholas Van Dyke or 
Alexander White? Well, they were all members of the 
Continental Congress, and Mr. Stern has their franks, as 
well as those of many of their fellow members not to 
mention signers of the Declaration, and in later periods, 
Vice-Presidents, cabinet members by the hundred, army 
officers and other functionaries of government too numer- 
ous to catalogue. 

Away back in pre-stamp days, before 1845, all the post- 
masters in the country had the privilege of not only send- 
ing letters free, but receiving them free, too for you could 
send letters C.O.D. then and right lavishly some of them 
used it. If you wrote a letter to a postmaster, you just 
tossed it into the mail with no thought of expense, either 
to yourself or anyone else. If away from home, the post- 
master could frank his mail just the same. J. W. Long- 
necker of Hartford, who collects these franks of Connecti- 
cut postmasters, says that he has followed Zolman Wild- 
man, postmaster at Danbury around 1813-1828, on a long 
journey all through the South, just by letters he wrote back 
home sometimes franking them "Free, Z. Wildman, P M 
of Danbury, Conn.," sometimes just with his name. It is 
interesting to speculate upon how many impostors may 
have gone about the country, representing themselves as 
postmasters and sending mail free. 

A postmaster at Canandaigua, N. Y., once made a nice 
thing out of his franking privilege. He was dismissed in 
1829 for running a lottery and using his frank to promote 
it. In one year he had sent 3,080 free letters and received 
1,397, all with regard to his lottery business alone! 


>NGUES in trees, books in 


the running brooks, ser- 

'IT- (01 

1 * 

JL m 

mons m stones these 
can all be found in stamps, too, just as in the scenery of 
the Forest of Arden in Rosalind's time, and collectors are 
finding new ones every year. The seemingly endless flood 
of pictorial stamps which most of the countries of the 
world are pouring upon us now celebrities, living, dead 
and legendary, historical and perhaps-historical events, 
scenery, industry, science, animals, human types and what 
not has one virtue, at least; it has supplied subjects for 
scores of new stamp collections not by countries, but by 
other categories, all of them charming to look upon, and 
many with very interesting and informative connotations. 
The pleasure found in assembling them is enhanced by 
their physical beauty. 

And here, for the first proposal of such a hobby, we must 
go back once more to 1869, when the Stamp Collectors' 
Magazine of London suggested collections of postage-stamp 
portraits alone for many stamps had already been issued 
without portraits. Strange how many suggestions were 
made in that year which were absolutely novel, which were 
not accepted at once, but which collectors took up long 



One of the most elaborate and most famous collections 
of this sort is that of Theodore E. Steinway on the subject 
of music. A study of his collection will show how the 
enthusiast leaves no stone unturned in his search for some- 
thing pertinent to his subject; sometimes pulling in by the 
ears something which to the lay eye appears to be a little off 
genus, but no matter. A perfectly legal example of this 
meticulous care in Steinway's collection is a view of the 
study of Camilo Castelo Branco, the Portuguese novelist, 
on Portugal's series of 1925 in his honor, for a prominent 
item of the furniture is a piano. In somewhat similar vein, 
our two-cent George Rogers Clark centenary is included 
because it shows the rolling of drums at the surrender of 
Fort Sackville. It took a watchful eye to see the implication 
in the Barbados stamp picturing Britannia driving a team 
of sea horses, which of course illustrates the song, "Britan- 
nia Rules the Waves," and another of Germany, with an 
eagle frowning across the Rhineland "The Watch on the 
Rhine" of course. Laymen may wonder at the Russian 
stamp honoring Pushkin, the novelist, until reminded that 
from his works were drawn the librettos of no less than five 
great operas Boris Godunofl, Le Coq d' Or, Eugen Onegfn, 
Pique Dame and Russian and Ludmilla. 

Numerous are the stamps issued in memory of com- 
posers. One of the handsomest pages in Mr. Steinway's 
album contains the series of oversized charity stamps issued 
by Austria in 1922, bearing portraits of seven great creators 
of music of the past who made their homes in the then 
gay and liberal Vienna. Under each stamp is drawn two 
or three bars of music from one of the particular com- 
poser's best-loved works; under Beethoven, for example, a 
bit of the "Moonlight Sonata"; under Schubert, the "Un- 
finished Symphony"; Johann Strauss, "The Beautiful Blue 


Danube"; Bruckner, his "Third Symphony"; Mozart, "Alia 
Turca"; Haydn, a sonata; Hugo Wolf, the song, "Secrecy." 
Topping it all, most appropriately, is the thousand-kroner 
stamp bearing the distant view of Vienna, long the musical 
capital of the world. 

On another page, the Czechoslovak stamps honoring 
Smetana and Dvorak have bars respectively from The Bar- 
tered Bride and the "New World Symphony." In similar 
fashion, the German stamps commemorating Bach show 
"Passacaglia," and Handel, the popular "Largo"; under Po- 
land's Paderewski is drawn a fragment of the famous 
"Minuet," under Chopin one of his polonaises; with 
France's Berlioz in The Damnation of Faust, with Italy's 
Pergolesi is La Serva Padrone and Spontini, La Vestale; 
Hungary's Liszt, a piano sonata; and so it goes. 

There is another page devoted to Liszt; the zof Hungary 
stamp of 1934 bearing his portrait has underneath it some 
bars of the popular "Liebestraum," and below that is an 
autographed letter written by Liszt from Weimar in 1881 
to William Steinway, introducing a pupil who wished to 
buy a piano from the manufacturer. Elsewhere there is an 
autographed letter from Richard Wagner to the same Mr. 
Steinway, written at Bayreuth in 1875, complimenting his 
piano; and there is also the title page, all inscribed in 
Wagner's own hand, of a "Grand Festival March," which 
he wrote in 1876 for the "Opening of the Centennial Cele- 
bration of the Declaration of Independence of the United 
States of North America." Why do we never hear that 
march nowadays? 

Germany, as may be expected, has paid lavish tribute 
to Wagner with a scene from each of ten of his greatest 
operas in one series, in another with Nibelungen scenes 


A specimen of the 1919 Paderewski stamp of Poland 
stands alone on one album page, with the slashing signa- 
ture of the great pianist-premier across it. In 1934 Czecho- 
slovakia issued sheets of stamps, marking the centenary 
of the Czech national anthem, framed above and below 
by bars of music from the song, and the sheet in the Stein- 
way collection is autographed by President Benes. Brazil 
in like fashion issued in 1936 sheets on the hundredth 
anniversary of the birth of her composer, Antonio Carlos 
Gomes, the frame containing passages from his opera, II 
Guarany, perhaps the greatest music that Brazil has yet 
produced. Many small countries honor their own com- 
posers, some not widely known elsewhere; among them 
Switzerland, which reminds us of Hans Georg Nageli and 
his song so long beloved in the old beer halls and universi- 
ties, "Life Let Us Cherish." When Queen Liliuokalani of 
Hawaii placed her portrait on her country's stamps, she 
had no thought of immortalizing herself as a composer, but 
one of them is in the Steinway collection because she 
wrote that wistful and famous Auf Wiedersehen of the 
Pacific, "Aloha Oe," said to have been inspired by seeing 
her sister, Princess Likelike, bidding farewell to her lover. 

Venezuela remembered her great pianist, Teresa Car- 
reno, in 1938, on the occasion of the removal of her re- 
mains from New York, where she died in 1917, to her 
native land. Italy brought out two Stradivarius stamps in 
1937, one of them a reproduction of Hamman's famous 
painting, showing the master thoughtfully gazing down 
upon one of his finished violins. France eulogized Rouget 
de Tlsle and his "Marseillaise" with at least three stamps. 
Bellini must be a favorite composer of Premier Mussolini's, 
for Italy has produced a whole series of stamps in his honor. 

The musical instruments pictured on stamps are legion. 


Several countries show the old-time post horn; some have 
heralds with trumpets, on others, military or boy-scout 
scenes include bugles and drums. Ireland of course has its 
harp, Russia a whole collection of stringed instruments, 
Esthonia an ancient bard with his harp, Ukraine a Cos- 
sack strumming a guitar, Tripoli the native flageolet and 
bagpipe, Peru a man sitting beside his llama, playing the 
quena; France a Muse with lyre; Italy Pan playing his pipes; 
Czechoslovakia, a baby being soothed by a violin lullaby; 
Abyssinia, the Empress Waizeri Zauditu entertained by a 
woman with a guitar, North Ingermanland, two peasants 
doing a duet on the zither. Even the lyre bird of Australia 
is not inapposite. The Belgian Congo introduces savage 
music tom-toms, drums, flutes and curious stringed instru- 

Bells are brought in as musical instruments, which gives 
opportunity to include the many stamps carrying pictures 
of famous campaniles and cathedral towers, the bells of 
the Kremlin, the same which rang for the coronation of 
Boris Godunoff in 1 598, and finally, our own Liberty Bell. 
Even in cancellations and cachets, music plays a part. Lyres 
have been mentioned as among the old cork-cut cancella- 
tions of the nineteenth century in our own country. The 
Wagner festival at Bayreuth always brings a portrait of 
Wagner on the postmark. A German cancellation of 1935 
shows a bar of triumphant music, "Deutsch ist die Saar." 
The Saxon Sangerfest of 1935 at Leipzig portrays an old 
chorister in his robe. On others marking current Festspiels, 
Liederfests or Sangerbundfests there are pictures of instru- 
ments, composers and so on. Even the Steinway, N. Y., 
post office (now in New York City) has had two cancella- 
tions picturing a piano. 

An album such as this is a promoter of knowledge, for 


it compels research such as some of us would not willingly 
undertake otherwise, and not the least attractive feature 
of it is the information so acquired, carefully lettered on 
the pages. 

Mrs. Hugh M. Clark's album of fashions is another no- 
table one. The fashion plates include those of both men 
and women, ranging through the whole gamut of clothing 
down to practically none at all; in fact, the latest styles in 
loin cloths are shown on stamps of Raratonga, Congo, 
Mexico, French Guiana and French Oceanica. Congo and 
Ruanda natives, who occupy more than two pages, appar- 
ently spend the least on clothing. A considerable portion 
of the style show deals with peasant costumes. Germany 
pictures ten peasant women, bust or half length, from East 
Prussia, Silesia, the Rhineland, Lower Saxony, Furmark, 
the Black Forest, Hesse, Upper Bavaria, Friesland and 
Franconia. Austria in 1934 issued a series showing the cos- 
tumes, two or more each, of Salzburg, Tyrol, Steiermark, 
Vorarlberg, Upper Austria, Vienna, and the military ser- 
vice. Turkey, Hungary, Ireland, France, Russia, Estonia and 
others also illustrate their distinctive folk garb. 

Even in the dress of the townsfolk of Mexico and Peru, 
the old Spanish influence is still apparent. The sarongs of 
the East Indies and Indo-China are here; the pictures of 
Greek patriots in the war for independence show charac- 
teristic features of costume, headdress and hair ornaments. 
There are two pages of fine coiffures, including those of 
the Princesses of Luxembourg and Liechtenstein, Queen 
Astrid of Belgium, Queen Wilhelmina of Holland, Anita 
Garibaldi and a Turkish typist. On another page are Afri- 
can jungle headdresses, both men's and women's. Switzer- 
land exhibits the headgear of a nurse and a nun, likewise 
hats from Basle, Lucerne, Appenzell, Geneva, Valais, and 


Graubunden. There are pages of athletic wear from all 
parts of the world; a series of costumes of utility by Ger- 
many, including those of a business man, blacksmith, 
mason, miner, farmer, stonecutter, judge, etc. 

Under men's fashions of bygone eras are found noted 
characters in Austria and Curasao during the seventeenth 
century, sixteenth-century Brazil and the British Guiana 
ninety-six-cent stamp which portrays Sir Walter Raleigh. 
A page of beards includes that of the cantankerous Edwin 
M. Stanton on the seven-cent United States 1873, Chris- 
topher Columbus and Valdivia on Chilean stamps, the 
magnificent lambrequin of old King Leopold II of Belgium, 
General Maximo Gomez of Cuba, and several others of 
lesser fame. There are mustachios, from Jan Sobieski on 
an Austrian commemorative, on down, and burnsides 
how the present generation ever fell into the habit of call- 
ing them sideburns is a dark mystery of which those of 
Emperor Franz Josef of Austria are easily tops. A page of 
Austrian monarchs and musicians of the eighteenth century 
gives us some fashion hints as to wigs and perukes. 

Not distantly related to this are the collections by others 
of women of the world; and when you consider that 
"women" includes all queens and princesses some dog- 
matists even construe it as including the thousand and one 
portraits of Queen Victoria it becomes quite a catalogue. 
Any stamp in which a woman appears in a group is apt to 
be considered eligible. Others collect children of the world, 
but Mrs. Edith Adams Brown of New York subdivides this 
idea and collects only the royal children. 

Apparently the first instance of this sort was the appear- 
ance of Edward VII of England as the Prince of Wales in 
his latter teens on the seventeen-center of New Brunswick, 
1860; the same portrait being used by Newfoundland in 


1868. Next came the baby pictures of Alfonso XIII on the 
stamps of Spain and her colonies in 1889, followed by 
young Queen Wilhelmina of Holland in 1891. A charm- 
ing portrait of Edward VIII as a curly-haired baby was 
used by Newfoundland in 1898; and the same country put 
forth a royal family issue in 1911, on which appeared all 
the children of George V, including Prince John, who died 
in 1919. In 1931 and again in 1938 Princess Elizabeth was 
on a Newfoundland stamp, and in 1939 she and her sister, 
Margaret Rose, appeared on one of the stamps of the royal 
visit issue of Canada. 

Montenegro in 1910 recalled the past by picturing its 
King, Nicholas I, in his youth. Roumania showed the boy 
King Michael in 1928 before he was displaced by his father. 
Liechtenstein in 1929 had an exquisite child portrait of 
Prince Francis I, and young King Peter was seen on the 
stamps of Jugoslavia in 1933. Luxembourg has a whole gal- 
lery of comely children two princes and three princesses 
and it is hard to tell which is prettiest, some of these or 
the Belgian child-welfare stamp of 1935 on which are the 
three royal youngsters, Baudoin, Albert and Josephine 
Charlotte. Egypt pictured King Farouk in 1929 at the age 
of ten, and in 1937 on his eighteenth birthday. Even his 
royal wedding stamp is eligible for this collection, for his 
bride portrayed there is only seventeen. And finally, Mrs. 
Brown has included a boy picture of Lenin which appeared 
on a stamp of Russia, and he came so near being a king 
that it is not wildly inappropriate. 

Lloyd Heath, one of the librarians of the Collectors Club 
of New York, making a talk on philately before the Men's 
Club of his church in White Plains, remarked that prac- 
tically any subject could be illustrated by one of these 
special collections. The minister of the church thereupon 


plumped the challenge at him, ''What about the Bible?" 
It rather threw Heath on his beam ends for a moment, 
but he rallied, accepted the gage and promised to prove 
his point at an early date. He found that many of the 
places mentioned in the Bible appear on stamps of the 
Near East; many views of Damascus and Antioch, also the 
Euphrates River on the stamps of Syria; Jerusalem, the Sea 
of Galilee, and the Tomb of Rachel, on Palestine, Mount 
Ararat on Armenia, Tyre and the famous cedars on Leba- 
non. Portugal attempted to portray the Angel Gabriel, 
Abyssinia essayed pictures of King Solomon's throne and 
the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. Several countries show 
Jesus, several the Madonna and Child. Belgium has a 
graphic representation of the Archangel Michael's battle 
with Satan (Rev. VII, 7). The Saar pictures two famous 
Biblical stories, The Good Samaritan and the Widow's 
Mite. Germany on a series of four charity stamps illustrated 
four of Christ's injunctions to service: feeding the hungry, 
relieving the thirsty, clothing the naked and healing the 

Greece has pictures of Athens, as well as of St. Paul 
preaching on Mars Hill. Malta makes quite a feature of 
Paul, because of his shipwreck there: a portrait of him, a 
picture of him shaking off the viper, and also of the ship- 
wreck, though critics complain of this that it shows two 
women in the water who are not in the story, and whose 
coiffures seem undisturbed by their violent experience. 
There is a fine picture of a peasant sowing by hand on an 
Armenian stamp (as well as on others), which illustrates 
the parable of the sower; and Armenia also shows a woman 
at a well, who might be the one to whom Christ talked. 
Italy, on its so-called Propaganda of the Faith issue of 
1923, has a fine picture of Christ among His Disciples. 


MflWiftPtH AJ 


Stamps Jent by Scott Stamp and Coin Co. 

Suggestions for five sorts of specialized stamp collections which 
cost little. Reading downward, birds, bridges, children, artists, 

w of 

>s T. Dye's 
lopes auto- 
hed by 
d rulers. 




Mr. J awe si T. Dye 

K.Y. Museum of Science & Induwt 

50 Rockefeller Plaza 

New York. n.y_ 


Picturing or symbolizing the Ten Commandments is a 
tougher assignment, but these collectors attempt it. Any 
pictures of savage idols or the ancient Greek gods, for 
example, would cover the first two Commandments; our 
Mother's Day stamp illustrates "honor thy father and thy 
mother." Heath chose the slaying of St. Olav on a Norway 
stamp as a connotation of "Thou shalt not kill." For "Re- 
member the Sabbath day, to keep it holy," there were 
stamps made to order those which Belgium used to issue 
with a little extension at the bottom on which was printed 
in French and Flemish, "Do not deliver on Sunday." Bel- 
gium delivers mail seven days in the week, but if you or 
your correspondent considered this a violation of the Bibli- 
cal injunction, or there was any other reason, you just left 
that tab on the stamp. Otherwise you tore it off it was 
perforated for the purpose before affixing the stamp to the 
letter. The Seventh Commandment well this is rather a 
delicate subject, but we observe that a lady collector in the 
same line thinks she has pictured this admonition very 
aptly with one of the Goya nudes, though we cannot be- 
lieve that Mr. Heath used this example before his church 

Even pictures of the stars, clouds, lightning and rain- 
bows are taken as having a relation to passages in the Bible, 
and ancient musical instruments are like those to which 
even Old Testament kings danced and made merry. 

Heath soon found himself locally famous; other churches 
in the New York district and even Rotary Clubs wanted 
to hear the talk. Word of it spread through the country, 
and he received fan mail. A clergyman in far-away British 
Columbia wrote him, "This isn't a stamp, but it has a bear- 
ing upon the Fourth Commandment"; and he enclosed an 


envelope with a cancellation "Observe the Sabbath" which 
Canada used for some time. 

Others such as Burnes Solomon of Brooklyn, Mrs. Edith 
Adams Brown of New York and John J. Gelbach of Phila- 
delphia, broaden this category to religions in general, which 
includes what we call the pagan creeds. It also includes 
the Catholic calendar of saints, most of whom the Protes- 
tants do not recognize. Here are old temples and statues of 
the gods and goddesses of ancient Greece and Rome. Both 
these countries show the chariot of the sun, and ancient 
veneration of that great orb is indicated by the pictures of 
it on stamps of Persia, Peru, India, the Philippines and 
Uruguay; Mexico has the Pyramid of the Sun; Egypt, the 
eye of Ra the Sun-god. Old Egypt also displays its pyramids 
and gigantic statues, Persia a conception of Ahura Mazda, 
the lord of light and wisdom; Mexico, of Tlaloc, the god 
of water, the French Indies of Brahma; Nepal of Siva, 
while French Oceanica and the New Hebrides display na- 
tive idols. Of course the pictures of Mercury the Messenger, 
an early symbol of the post, are numberless. Argentina uses 
a picture of the famous border statue, the Christ of the 
Andes, and France the smiling angel of Reims Cathedral. 

There are collections dealing with saints alone and how 
many of them are on stamps! not only the Biblical ones 
already mentioned, but Publius of Malta, Martin of Tours 
(dividing his cloak with the beggar), Wenceslaus, Olav, 
Ursula, Elizabeth of Hungary, Stephen, Gisela, Cyril, 
Laszlo, Emery, Joan of Arc, Benedict, Rose of Lima and 
many others. Italy has a whole series on St. Francis of 
Assisi, and both she and Portugal have series on St. An- 
thony of Padua, while Portugal has another on St. Anthony 
of Lisbon; and there is also Italy's series on the monastery 
of Monte Cassino, which brings in its founder, St. Bene- 


diet. Cyprus shows the discovery of the tomb of St. Barna- 

A collection of religions naturally includes all churches, 
cathedrals, chapels, temples, mosques and shrines, and 
these are by some enthusiasts collected separately. Prob- 
ably the most superbly mounted of all these is that of 
Henry Wood Salisbury of Brooklyn, who calls it "Houses 
of God." Each album page is framed in a Gothic arch of 
blue and gold, with circular ornaments in the upper corners 
like the rose windows in a cathedral, intricately designed 
in all the rich colors of stained glass, while a much larger 
and still more gorgeous one is painted just under the center 
of the arch. Each stamp has a rectangular frame of black 
and gold painted behind it, the black forming the outer 
border, the gold next the stamp to set off its bright colors. 

Here Christian and non-Christian houses of worship 
have an equal part the ruins of the ancient temples of 
classic mythology, Shinto, Buddhist and the two great 
Catholic sects of today, for Protestant temples are almost 
non-existent on stamps. Belgium pictures St. Gudule's 
Cathedral at Brussels, Sts. Rombaut, Baron and Wandu, 
churches at Bruges and Dinant, and two views of Orval 
Abbey. Italy has the monasteries already mentioned, like- 
wise all the greater churches of Rome, and the Pope open- 
ing and closing the Holy Door. The Netherlands shows 
Gouda Church and a church ship; Roumania presents 
Alba Julia Cathedral and King Charles at the shrine of St. 
Nicholas in 1904; Lebanon, the great temples of Baalbek; 
Nicaragua, its Leon Cathedral; Palestine, the Mosque of 
Omar; Spain, the Mosque of the Moors at Cordoba; Mon- 
aco, St. Devote; Norway, Trondhjem Cathedral; Estonia, 
the nunnery of St. Brigitta. Panama shows its old churches 
on three stamps. Mexico honors Christian and pagan alike 


with the Cathedral of Mexico and Mayan temples. Even 
North Ingermanland brought forth the ruins of an ancient 

Overlapping this at some points, and yet a distinct cate- 
gory, is the archaeological colection of Miss Cornelia C. 
Ward of New York. Here again are scores of stamps cover- 
ing not only temples but other ruins in old Rome and 
Greece, in Baalbek; Mexico's pyramids, Aztec and Mayan 
relics, similar wonders of Guatemala, Honduras and British 
Honduras; Peru's reminders of the Incas; in Bolivia the 
marvels of Tiahuanico and in Armenia, of Ani. Here are 
some thirty stamps of Egypt, picturing her pyramids, the 
Sphinx, rock temples, colossi, the ruins of Karnak, and 
ancient statuary. The crumbling handiwork of Imperial 
Rome is found also in the stamps of Fiume, France (that 
great aqueduct, the Pont du Card), Algeria, Libya, Tunisia 
and Tripolitana; of the Greeks in Crete, Cyprus, Cyrenaica 
and Eritrea. Among the great cities of ancient history 
whose glory departed two millennia and more ago, Ctesi- 
phon is in Iraq, Bosra in Syria and Persepolis in Persia. 
Malta has some megalithic ruins. In the Far East, China 
pictures the Temple of Heaven and the Great Wall, Man- 
chukuo an old pagoda and a mausoleum at Mukden, 
Ceylon the Temple of the Tooth of Buddha, Indo-China 
that mighty mystery, Ankor-Vat. If you wish to include the 
early Middle Ages, France, Spain and other countries will 
have entries; and finally, in our own land, there is that fine 
view of the Mesa Verde cliff dwellings in our National 
Parks series. 

Dr. Otho C. Hudson is one of several who have slightly 
varying collections dealing with medicine, surgery and 
health. Health, by the way, is every year boosted as a good 
idea on stamps by New Zealand. New South Wales in 1897 


issued two stamps combining Queen Victoria's jubilee cele- 
bration with the fight against tuberculosis, it being the first 
country to take such action. Since then, anti-tuberculosis 
societies in many countries have been aided by stamps. 
More than twenty countries have thus honored the Red 
Cross; charity and child welfare issues have appeared in 
twenty-five more. Single stamps or whole issues picturing 
hospitals and their functioning have been issued by such 
far-flung countries as Norway, Roumania, Luxembourg, 
Guatemala and the Belgian Congo. Peru and Lebanon 
show medical colleges, the Middle Congo a Pasteur insti- 
tute. Luxembourg pictures a consultation of surgeons in an 
operating room, and again, a scientist examining a culture 
under a microscope. Egypt in 1928 had a Medical Congress 
issue, Roumania in '32 the Ninth Annual Congress on the 
History of Medicine, Poland in 1927 the Fourth Interna- 
tional Congress of Military Medicine and Pharmacy. 

Among personages, China has honored Dr. Sun Yat Sen; 
Cuba, Dr. Charles }. Finlay; France, Pasteur and M. Berthe- 
lot; Germany, Dr. Gustav Nachtigall; Dahomey, Dr. N. 
Eugene Balay; Lithuania, Dr. Jonas Basanavicius; the Canal 
Zone, Dr. Gorgas. Austria had a whole series of physicians. 
As for nurses, Edith Cavell appears on a Canadian stamp, 
Queen Marie on Roumania. Congo in 1931 portrayed a 
witch doctor, and Hudson even includes the "Lagoon of 
the Marvelous Cure" in Peru. Latvia has "Mercy" assisting 
wounded soldiers, Hungary, St. Elizabeth ministering to 
sick children, the Saar from 1926 to '31 ran general medical 
subjects for special charities. With the calm detachment of 
a physician, Dr. Hudson considers death scenes, such as 
those of St. Francis, St. Benedict and St. Anthony, as ap- 
propriate to a medical collection. And these items so rap- 
idly sketched are only the beginning of the story. 


Close alongside this is the general subject of science, 
which includes many other things than medicine and chem- 
istry, though each of the other branches are specially col- 
lected. Here, among the portraits one finds, in addition to 
the medical and chemical scientists already mentioned, 
such people as Copernicus (Poland), Popoff (Russia), 
Volta (Italy) and the Curies (France and colonies). En- 
gineers collect stamps covering all engineering structures, 
and there are so many bridges on stamps of the world that 
many collectors, both lay and scientific, have fine albums 
of bridges alone. A few collectors just go in for buildings 
of which there are many on stamps other than churches 
and hospitals. And not only are portraits of scientists 
sought for, but there are those who feel impelled to collect 
philosophers, artists, authors, musicians or journalists. Post- 
master-General Farley is hastening to do something in be- 
half of these folk as we write. 

Incidentally, there is even one man, Kasper E. Bruck- 
mann of Chicago, who collects foreign stamps picturing 
Americans United States Americans, he means. One re- 
calls that as far back as 1909 Brazil, on the occasion of a 
Pan-American Congress, placed a portrait of Washington 
on a stamp. Since then, several others have done so; in 
fact, our recent sesquicentennial has been commemorated 
as ardently by some other countries as by ourselves. Lind- 
bergh has been honored by several more. In 1928 Paraguay 
portrayed President Hayes and a town down there which 
was named for him in memory of his settlement of the 
Chaco boundary dispute with Bolivia fifty years ago. In 
similar fashion, Brazil has just laureled President Cleveland 
for settling her boundary dispute with Argentina in 1895. 
President Franklin D. Roosevelt is appearing on foreign 
stamps now, and Panama has honored all our canal build- 


ers, including Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Wilson 
and William H. Taft, Secretary of War when the project 
began. Nicaragua issued a series for Will Rogers in grati- 
tude for his aid in her time of trouble. Turkey placed Jane 
Addams and Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt among its "Fa- 
mous Women." Pictures of the Capitol at Washington 
and our World's Fair buildings at San Francisco have been 
far more numerous on foreign stamps during 1939 than 
they ever were on our own. There are many group pictures 
including Indians and others which come into this cate- 

The familiar stamps of France which began issuing in 
1876 and continued for many years thereafter have a globe 
almost concealed behind the numerals and the hands of 
the standing figures. This was the first of the map stamps 
which have since become so numerous. Belgium had a pair 
of little globes in the corners of the twenty-five-cent stamp 
of 1884; then Colombia used a map of the Isthmus of 
Panama in 1887. Canada's beautiful three-colored map of 
the British dominions in 1898 is a milestone in this depart- 
ment. Another was the Dominican Republic's of 1900, 
showing the whole island, with its own country almost 
covering it and Haiti only a nail-paring along the western 
edge. But the storm that arose over this was outclassed by 
the later uproars when Honduras and Nicaragua each is- 
sued map stamps claiming the same province; in fact, war 
was narrowly averted. Thus the album pages of a map col- 
lection are spiced with lively history, amusing and exciting. 
Several maps have appeared on our own stamps on the 
Louisiana Territory series of 1904, Jamestown in 1907, the 
Oregon Territory Centennial of 1936, the Northwest Ter- 
ritory Sesquicentennial of 1937. Of course globes of all 
sorts must be included, and they are numerous. 


The food and drink of the world is an intriguing subject. 
Nearly a dozen countries of Latin America and Africa pic- 
ture their coffee culture, the tree and the berries. As many 
more present scenes of sugar production. Three advertise 
their cocoa and no less than ten their fish and this in- 
cludes Newfoundland's seal and the Falkland Islands 
whale, which aren't really fish and not universally eaten, 
though we've seen whale steaks sold in New York. Five 
countries have sheep on their stamps, six have cattle, three 
have bears, and seven, deer or caribou. Tannou Touva, the 
little pseudo-nation maintained in Asia by the Soviet, prin- 
cipally for stamp-issuing purposes, is in all four animal cate- 
gories. France publicizes its champagne, Samoa its kava, 
Jamaica its cassava, Liberia its pineapples, Cuba its man- 
goes, Colombia its bananas, Ecuador and the Cayman 
Islands their turtles, Tannou Touva its capercaillie and 
Newfoundland its ptarmigan. The Philippines and Ceylon 
have splendid views of mountain-side rice terraces. Some 
collectors include the iguana and other big lizards of Ecua- 
dor and New Zealand, on the general theory that some 
people will eat anything. 

All these fruiting trees and plants enter into Mary K. 
Piercy's Garden in Stamps; likewise the many countries 
showing palm trees; Canada's maple leaf; Germany's oak 
stump of 1919 with the new shoots symbolizing the new 
Germany and its hope for the future (alas, that there were 
no real prophets in Germany then!); the Charter Oak on 
our Connecticut issue, the rice and indigo on our Charles- 
ton stamp, the tobacco on our Jamestown. The many trees 
on our National Parks series are considered eligible. Liberia 
displays its cedars, Mozambique its hemp and cotton, 
Japan, conventionalized chrysanthemums. 

And there is the world's work, which includes all the 


agriculture, fishing, sugar-making and fruit-gathering just 
mentioned, as well as tree-felling (as on a Cameroun 
stamp), paper-making (Newfoundland), pottery (Ruanda), 
mining (Newfoundland, Saar), cotton-planting (Egypt), 
cotton-spinning (Liberia), gold-washing (French Guiana), 
basket-making (Belgian Congo), gold-mining (New Zea- 
land), and the first shipment of frozen mutton from New 
Zealand. Transportation forms the greater portion of this 
genus, but is also a subject for special collection, and is 
again subdivided into railroads, ships, airplanes, Zeppelins, 
yes, even automobiles and busses. 

A Swedish enthusiast, Frederick Arsenius, collects por- 
traits, painstakingly adding the biography of every person 
whose postage picture he has. The trouble he must encoun- 
ter in gathering the life sketches of some persons who have 
been dug out of obscurity by some countries in recent years 
to supply subjects for new stamp issues is probably what 
deters many others from attempting such a collection. 

Again the infinite variety! Our commemoratives supply 
material for a pleasant tour of the United States; and you 
may extend it to foreign countries as far as you like. One 
woman goes in for fishing scenes; some for naught but his- 
torical scenes. Sculpture is a large subject, and heraldic de- 
signs on stamps is another important classification. Three 
or four people we know of collect just waterfalls; animals 
and birds there are in infinite variety (one man wants only 
elephants); two women specialize in purple stamps; others 
in black ones. You may find most of these fans and perhaps 
some others, too, in the Philatelic Bluebook, which the 
author likes to pore over because he occasionally finds in it 
such things as the address of J. Mohammed, Lot 2, Sandy 
Babb Street, Kitty Village, E. C., Demerara, British Gui- 
ana, S. A. 


I HE INGENIOUS brain of 

CHAPTER SIXTEEN | lt ~ Vl _ .. 

Cosmopolitan, the anon- 


ymous writer in the Amer- 
ican Journal of Philately, made another of those sugges- 
tions in 1869 in which he seemed to have been entirely 
original namely, that collectors turn their attention to 
revenue stamps. "It would be impossible, almost, to find 
designs of greater beauty and variety than at present exist," 
he said. "Produce me, if possible, a more beautiful or better 
executed stamp of any country than our $3,000 manifest 
or charter party." After getting the general revenues, he sug- 
gested going on to match, playing-card, and shoe stamps, 
then to medicines. Collectors did follow his suggestion as 
to general revenue stamps, but not a great many became 
interested in the proprietary match and medicines until 
after they had ceased to be issued in the early '8o's, with 
the result that some have never been found to this day. 

There was one class of stamps to which "Cosmopolitan" 
made no reference, but which now claims a number of 
devotees our stamped paper of the eighteenth and early 
nineteenth centuries, our first fiscals. These begin with a 
Massachusetts tax on newspapers in 1755 quaint designs 
embossed in the paper without color. That of the half- 
penny shows the device of a bird; the tuppence has the 



Sacred Codfish; the threepence a pine tree and the four- 
pence a schooner in sail, with the motto in a ring around 
it: "Steady, Steady." The British stamp tax of 1765 on 
paper, documents, almanacs, etc., which caused such a fuss 
in this country and brought the Revolution a step nearer, 
also the Tea Party stamps of the same year, are items which 
no collector can overlook. The United States began in 1791 
issuing "supervisor stamps" for certain ports, and in 1797 
stamps for legal documents. Another issue appeared in 
1800. All these continued to be embossed and colorless. 
The War of 1812 brought on more stamp taxes, including 
$12 to $15 for retail liquor dealers in the country, and $20 
to $25 in the city. Virginia issued state stamped paper (for 
documents) in 1813, and other states took it up later. After 
the Civil War, New York City, Philadelphia, Boston and 
St. Louis had stamps of their own in color for documents. 
Among the few notable collections of the earlier stamped 
paper are those of Morton D. Joyce of New York, Colin 
McR. Makepeace of Providence, and H. E. Beats, the vet- 
eran but still youthful Jerseyite, who has been through prac- 
tically every other branch of American collecting and now 
likes to remark that he is interested in nothing later than 

E. B. Sterling of Trenton, New Jersey, who left a bank 
to go into the stamp business, was a pioneer in promoting 
the collecting of this old stamped paper, and included it in 
the first American catalogue of revenue stamps, which he 
issued in 1888, embellished with a frontispiece portrait of 
himself, with his magnificent beard parted just below the 
chin to give a good view of the big cameo pin in his Ascot 
tie sweeping this way and that in two long, undulant ban- 
ners to his armpits. Mr. Sterling that year sold to the youth- 
ful Hiram Beats the already celebrated Carpenter and 


Goodall collections of revenue stamp proofs for $7,000, 
which excited awe at the time as a record-breaking private 
sale in American annals. 

In 1890 the Messers Sterling and Beats embarked on 
another enterprise hitherto unprecedented; they bought 
from the Treasury Department no less than ten carloads of 
old papers; the figure has hitherto been given as eight, but 
Mr. Deats assures me in black and white that it was ten. 
Their chief object was liquor stamps and coupons of a par- 
ticular type, but they also found others, including many 
fine departmental stamps in twenty-four-, thirty- and 
ninety-cent denominations on official letters. The stuff was 
shipped to New Jersey, storage space rented, and a staff of 
helpers toiled for two years on it. In addition to the twine 
salvaged from the mass, the promoters had to buy another 
ton of it with which to tie up the waste for shipment to 
paper mills. They didn't quite come out even on the specu- 
lation, as Mr. Deats admits with a rather wry grin. 

But one of the reasons why they didn't was this: the 
Treasury sent two observers up to watch the sorting and 
see that the buyers didn't get away with any skullduggery. 
Before the job was completed, they seized a quantity of 
the material, including some desirable stamps, and took it 
back to Washington, alleging that it was too recent to be 
permitted to escape from the records it had got into the 
waste inadvertently. But nothing was said about any refund 
of money to Messers Sterling and Deats for the seized ma- 
terial. Those two gentlemen filed suit, and the case is in 
the United States Court of Claims to this day nearly fifty 
years later. Which goes to prove that in dealing with the 
Government as the Government itself tries to point out 
to criminals You Can't Win. 

Such costly governmental fun as war must always be paid 


for by the citizen; so the Civil War was scarcely a year 
under way when the United States Treasury planned a 
series of stamp taxes, some of which endured for two dec- 
ades and more thereafter, and which produced, as "Cosmo- 
politan" remarked, some of the most interesting and beau- 
tiful stamps in history. In August, 1862, the Commissioner 
of Internal Revenue, George S. Boutwell, closed a contract 
with Butler & Carpenter, engravers and printers of Phila- 
delphia, to produce revenue stamps for the government at 
the rate of thirteen cents per thousand. But the commis- 
sioner had overestimated most appallingly the number of 
stamps that would be required yearly, with the result that 
for years Butler and Carpenter wrangled with the Depart- 
ment, demanding new contracts at higher rates and indem- 
nity for past losses some of which they obtained, and some 
of which they didn't. Anybody who has had any experience 
knows that the government is the worst of debtors, unless 
the creditor has a personal pull somewhere. Finally, in 
1875, when Butler and Carpenter were receiving twenty- 
three cents per thousand for the work, the National Bank 
Note Company snatched it away from them with a bid of 
nine cents per thousand, and continued to do it until the 
Bureau of Engraving and Printing took it over in 1880. 

When they first began the work, in the fall and winter 
of 1862, Butler & Carpenter couldn't get the stamps per- 
forated fast enough, and at Boutweirs request, many sheets 
were delivered to the Revenue Office imperforate whereby 
some nice varieties ensued. That first issue covered all sorts 
of legal and business documents, telegrams, playing cards, 
photographs, medicines, matches, perfumery, cosmetics, 
and by 1866, some canned goods meats, fish, shellfish, 
fruits, vegetables, sauces, syrups, prepared mustard, jams 
and jellies and pickles in glass. In the following year canned 


and preserved meats, shellfish, fruits, vegetables and pickles 
were exempted. Liquors and tobacco were already being 

In the first issue, the imagination of the government 
went no higher than a $200 stamp. In the second issue, it 
rose to the height of a $500 token in three colors red, 
black and green of which, in three years, 204 copies had 
been sold. This issue came about largely because of the 
washing of cancellations from stamps which had been going 
on. The second issue, begun in 1871, was printed on a 
"chameleon" paper, which would turn all sorts of colors at 
the touch of acid or alkali, making washing very difficult. 
Moreover, the printers were ordered to use "fugitive, sol- 
uble inks," and a herringbone cancellation which cut into 
the paper was introduced, which reduced the washing haz- 
ard to the lowest possible minimum. 

In the third issue, which began late in 1871, Uncle Sam 
made his most magnificent fiscal gesture in this genre a 
$5,000 stamp which was designed for printing in black, 
green and orange. The plates were made and proofs taken, 
but the stamp was never issued. A letter from Joseph R. 
Carpenter (now in sole charge of the printing business, his 
partner, Mr. Butler, having died in 1868) written July 14, 
1872, is significant: "I send you the $5,000 stamp approved 
in the colors in which it is to be printed in case we have 
an order for this stamp a very improbable contingency." 

Some time ago Joseph L. Bopeley, a revenue-stamp col- 
lector of London, Ohio, wrote to George B. Sloane, col- 
umnist in Stamps, that there could scarcely have been any 
possible use for so large a stamp in the 1870*8. He figured 
that it would take a $5,000,000 mortgage or bill of sale, a 
$2,500,000 conveyance, a $1,999,800 lease, to require such 
a tax, all transactions larger than were likely to take place 


in that era. He had seen a $1,000,000 trustees' mortgage 
for bondholders of that period, with a thousand dollars in 
stamps affixed, but nothing larger. Mr. Sloane agreed, but 
rejoined that the big stamp would be useful at times to 
present-day giants of finance. He had handled in recent 
years a certificate of stock transfer of several large corpora- 
tions in a holding company, which bore forty copies of the 
thousand-dollar stamp of the issue of 1917, and several 
hundred dollars more in odd values, aggregating nearly 
$41,000 in total tax. 

The only time in history when anybody ever got a dis- 
count from the government on anything came during these 
stamp issues. For several years there was a discount, or more 
properly a premium given on purchases of more than $500 
worth of stamps. The rate was changed whimsically every 
little while. When it was at its peak, ten per cent: if you 
bought $600 worth of stamps, you received $660 worth, for 
the premium was always paid in stamps, not cash. This 
opened the way to stamp brokers, who gave smaller dis- 
counts on smaller amounts. A circular of the time quotes 
one per cent discount on $15 purchases; two per cent on 
$30; three per cent on $50; four per cent on $100 and over. 

Scarcely had the printing of the proprietary stamps for 
patent medicines begun than certain manufacturers began 
to question whether they couldn't have distinctive stamps 
with their own design or trademark on them. The first to 
propose this seems to have been Dr. Herrick, who made 
pills and plasters for man and condition powders for beast. 
His request was granted, and on October 15, 1862, Car- 
penter wrote to him, "Your stamp will be the first proprie- 
tary die printed; and in this respect, you will enjoy an ad- 
vantage over your equally afflicted brethren in the trade." 
Herrick's stamp, like others at the beginning, was of about 


the size of a two-cent revenue stamp; but within a short 
time, imaginations expanded, stamps became larger and of 
all shapes and sizes. Frequently the stamp was incorporated 
in the design of the wrapper of bottle or pill box. They 
became beautiful examples of the engraver's art, with 
whorls and flourishes and solemn portraits of the benevo- 
lent, whiskered gentlemen who sold drug-flavored alcohol 
and powerful clean-out pills, guaranteed to make a new 
being of you, whether in earth or heaven, if you took 
enough of them. 

But though you could incorporate your stamp design in 
your wrapper in fact, sometimes, almost the whole wrap- 
per was a stamp that was as far as you could go. In 1874 
the Government seized and destroyed ten thousand alma- 
nacs of a patent-medicine concern because the cover bore- 
probably quite innocently a facsimile of its stamp. But 
there was a match concern which forged a stamp and had 
to go out of business. For the match makers had taken to 
the private design idea, too, and their stamps were many 
and various. Many of them are rare or unknown today, 
because the business was feeble and short-lived. 

That there were collectors of these private stamps even 
in 1874 is revealed by a letter in the American Journal of 
Philately, in which the writer says that the match stamp 
of John J. Macklin of Covington, Kentucky, is one of the 
greatest of rarities. He found one in possession of a small 
boy, glued tightly in a book and very dirty. He bought the 
boy's whole book for $10, boiled the Macklin stamp in 
soap and water for ten minutes and it came out fairly clean. 
It was rare because Macklin had tried to use a phototype 
stamp not made by Butler & Carpenter, which was against 
the rules. When this was made clear to him, he said that 

o u 





VH >-i 

o ^ 


E- -S PQ 

w C E o ^o 

r^ O, tXD J, C 

s -^^^ M 

25 Q cu -S ^o - 

_o 08 c *- ^_r o 




o W 

m <: 







X ' 1 




> ! 1 

4 a 



i -% 

? i 


^ i 



, ^ 


American 4Tu$ee Co. 

su$tNf-$s IN /8?- 


PLUM 37-jf., 

-N Yf-AffS AS ST/LL 







To Igaiie U fuww, 

r ^ 


H. L BAWOS, Slate A^Mt, 


A page from Henry W. Holcombe's albums of match and 
medicine stamps: this showing not only the stamp but an 
original match package of the iSvo's, and some of the actual 


he couldn't afford a private die and went back to using the 
regular government stamp. 

Messers Beats and Sterling bought the office records, 
proofs and associated material still owned by Mr. Carpenter 
in his old age, and the information thus obtained was of 
much value in preparing the Boston Revenue Book. Among 
other things there was a sheet of the sixty-cent orange and 
black revenue, third issue, with the central medallion in- 
verted, which was such a treasure that Mr. Beats had it 
framed and it hung on the wall of his home for years. 
Beats, too, fell heir to the greatest nugget of all Butler 
& Carpenter's order book, covering the whole period of 
their stamp contract, 1862 to 1875. Here the orders were 
entered with special instructions, usually with the approved 
sketch or a proof or both alongside the entry. It contains 
more than two hundred such originals, the majority of 
them unique, and interesting little supplementary notes as 
to the designing: "Vignette head of Mr. Scheetz. Style is 
subject to artist's taste." "The ends to be lightly filled in 
with scrollwork. Be careful to give the same expression to 

Here is the only known proof in any form of the six-cent 
orange proprietary, the last stamp of the first revenue issue, 
which was created because of the irate complaint of Charles 
Osgood and Company, a Connecticut medicine concern, 
that there were many companies selling a $1.50 article (the 
tax was four cents per dollar), yet no six-cent stamp for 
their use. Osgoods couldn't afford a private die, they said, 
so this stamp was turned out, for use largely on their "India 
Cholagogue," a malaria nostrum sold largely in the South; 
and as there were few stamp collectors down there in 1871, 
this stamp even in used condition is very rare; for it was 


replaced, after four and a half months, by a two-color six- 

Here is also the die proof of the Thomas E. Wilson four- 
cent black, the rarest of the medicine stamps; rare, so it is 
said, because Dr. Wilson had a partner whom he ignored 
in ordering the stamps, and had his own facsimile signa- 
ture placed on them, as if he were the whole works. When 
they were delivered and the partner saw them, he flew into 
a rage, seized them and threw them into the fire, destroying 
all save a few which the Doctor managed to clutch. 

Medicine stamps do not roam at large today in any quan- 
tity. The most fun for collectors is to go still-hunting for 
them among old village drug stores, where some bottles or 
packages have stood on dusty shelves for forty, fifty, sixty 
years, until the liquids have half evaporated, the salves have 
dried into thin, hard cakes, the pills shrunken or crumbled 
apart. Some druggists have forgotten that they have the old 
stuff. Some good-natured old fellows, if they like the col- 
lector's looks, tell him just to rummage around in the 
nooks and corners and see what he can find. Not many 
village dealers seem to realize that the stamps have any 
value. Some donate the packages to the collector, others 
will accept a half or a quarter of the selling price, yet others 
demand the full figure, no matter if it's a dollar or a dollar 
and a half, and won't abate a cent. And incredible as it may 
seem, even an old package of matches of sixty years ago is 
on rare occasions still found in some little, out-of-the-way 
New England store or other unpromising nook. 

After acquiring the package, there may be hours of fun 
in getting the stamp loose from bottle or box without mu- 
tilating it. If it is on a wrapper, the latter must be slowly 
and carefully unsealed and opened out, cleaned, and it and 
the stamp ironed flat, ready for album mounting. The bot- 


tie, usually with name of medicine or manufacturer blown 
in the side, is a collectible article; often the philatelist has 
a friend who collects old American bottles, and the two 
work hand in hand. 

Henry W. Holcombe of New York, whose match- and 
medicine-stamp collection is one of the most fascinating 
things we have ever seen, can show you all the different 
types of match boxes and packages; flat, rectangular boxes 
of wood or pasteboard, cylindrical wooden affairs roughly 
turned on a lathe, heavy paper packages similar to cigarette 
packages of today. When such a paper package was made 
up, its base was touched to liquid mucilage, then to sand, 
and when it dried, there was your match-scratching surface. 
Some of the old matches were nearly twice as long as those 
we use now. You may see everything save the heavy wooden 
boxes on Mr. Holcombe's album pages, even samples of the 
matches being glued there. There is always a photograph of 
the package as it appeared in the store, and below that, the 
package itself, opened and mounted on the page. 

Lettered on the pages is practically all the information 
worth while about the various manufacturers. Actually, his- 
tories of the patent-medicine and match businesses could 
almost be written from these albums. Here one gets a pic- 
ture of little known phases of American industrial and 
social history. Ambitious amateurs started little match fac- 
tories in town or country with only a few dollars capital, 
often with only the vaguest notions of formulae for making 
the match heads. Sometimes these beginners produced 
matches so sensitive, so easily ignited that they couldn't be 
shipped; sometimes the compound took too long to dry. 
To obtain the services of an experienced man from a larger 
factory was a rare boon. At these small factories there might 
be only two or three supervising adults; the workers would 


be mostly boys and girls. The paper or pasteboard packages, 
meanwhile, would be produced at piecework rates in the 
neighbors' homes. There was one small factory, that of Ives 
& Judd, which was located in Rag Hollow, a little cleft 
in the Connecticut hills Mr. Holcombe draws a miniature 
fragment of a map on his page to show you just where it 
was. On another page may be mounted one of the "combs" 
of matches, just a thin piece of wood, only partly split 
apart, and the split ends dipped; when you needed a match, 
you just broke it off the comb. Other manufacturers made 
up their matches in square blocks, likewise only partly split 

Some of the little match concerns have never been lo- 
cated, and less than ten years ago there were still a half 
dozen of the medicine men whose history wasn't known, 
but Mr. Holcombe tells us that practically the last one has 
now been driven to earth. His research upon them is tire- 
less, never slackening. His albums are dotted thickly with 
their collateral material advertising pamphlets and cards, 
envelopes, letters, recipe books, bills and invoices. He re- 
veals curious stories, such as that of the Reverend Edward 
A. Wilson was he a preacher, after all? who in the latter 
i86o's was running ads, purely in the interest of humanity, 
in such magazines as Harper's and Leslie's Weeklies, telling 
how he had once been given up to die with consumption, 
but that he had been cured by a marvelous prescription, 
which he in turn would send free to any sufferer who would 
just write to him and ask for it. But when you received the 
prescription from him, you found that there was one in- 
gredient which you had to buy from a man named William 
}. Minshull in New York. How was anyone to know that 
Minshull was the Reverend Wilson's partner? The ingredi- 
ent was rather expensive, too. Finally, in 1871 Wilson had 


to come out in the open, and a stamp for "Rev. E. A. 
Wilson's Remedy, Wm. J. Minshull, Agent," was designed. 
All this time, Wilson had been writing from Williams- 
burg, N. Y., a suburb which is now part of Brooklyn; but 
in 1872 he suddenly disappeared from the correspondence 
and from the directory; and although Holcombe, with his 
usual patience, has searched almost every city directory in 
the country through the years that followed, he has never 
found any further trace of him. Did he just evaporate, or 
had he ever existed? His remedy continued to be sold, at 
least until 1882. 

There are other curious stamps of those years which are 
collected by the more ardent enthusiasts; lock seal stamps, 
for example; the brass cotton tax stamps of the '6o's, just 
an embossed brass tab with a long, tapering point to stick 
into the bale of cotton; hydrometer stamps the hydrom- 
eter is an instrument for determining the specific gravity 
and purity of certain liquids, and was used mostly on 
liquors which, at the one factory in New York which 
made them, were glued into the glass bulb at the end of 
the instrument, as proof that it had been government- 
inspected and approved; beer stamps nothing in all rev- 
enue history has produced anything so uniformly gorgeous 
and brilliant with fancy designing and engine turning as the 
beer stamps of those days. Don't ask us how to obtain 
them, for we don't know. Mr. Holcombe might tell if he 
would. And there were private tobacco stamps which began 
to issue about 1878, printed on the wrappers, which were 
usually tin foil. By 1882 it was said that there were three- 
hundred of these tin-foil tobacco stamps. Most of them 
have vanished entirely now. 

The Spanish War of 1898 of course brought another 


crop of revenues, including at the start the first sur- 
charges in our history, just the letters "I R" on the two- 
cent postage stamp. From that day to this, special taxes and 
tax stamps have never ceased to be with us. It makes one's 
head swim to look over a catalogue of those in force in 
recent years, and most of them still with us not only na- 
tional, but state imposts food, liquor, tobacco products, 
oils and gasoline, oleomargarine, cereal beverages, playing 
cards, malt, mechanical games, secured debts, hunting li- 
censes, those potato stamps of 1936 which the government 
peddled about the philatelic market after the potato-stamp 
experiment collapsed; inspection stamps of a thousand sorts 
inspection of liquors, of oil and gasoline, of peat, humus 
and untreated phosphates, live-stock remedies, paint, var- 
nish and stains, feedstuffs and cereal seeds, milk, bedding, 
egg classification but why be tiresome? And then there are 
but there's no use in reminding the citizen unnecessarily 
of his taxes. . . . 

Here is another byway which you may never have heard 
of. Back in the iSyo's and '8o's, if you patented an article 
and licensed some concern to manufacture it, you sold 
them royalty stamps of your own design, one of which they 
must attach to every article made under your patent. These 
stamps are not, of course, of government issue, but they are 
collectors' items and interesting as revealing what curious 
things were patented and used sixty years ago. Collars, for 
example; about the only sort of detachable collar a man 
could buy then was made of paper. You wore it until it 
collapsed, then threw it away. Women's hats were pat- 
ented, overalls, even men's clothing an adjustable waist 
feature, a new idea for buttoning trousers; likewise the 
saddle-seam boot, the dirt-excluder shoe, a patent plow 


shoe, the ventilating waterproof shoe and others. If you 
applied American quilted wire soles to your shoes or put 
them together with Oliver's waxed shoe pegs, you had to 
buy royalty stamps. There were other articles besides, all 
listed in the pamphlet which Holcombe has compiled on 
the subject. 


THERE are a thousand rami- 
j.' U-1 i. 1 

fications of philately; a 
thousand byways which 

are as pleasant to those whose feet wander there as any or- 
thodox collection of postage stamps. Undoubtedly the 
most important of them all is air mail in its various 
branches. There are exclusive air-mail dealers, air-mail cata- 
logues, even crash catalogues; for air-mail collectors of 
course want envelopes which have been through disasters 
of one sort and another, and some persons specialize in 
them, to the exclusion of other air-mail items. An envelope 
with its edges burned and a sticker from the Post Office 
Department, notifying the addressee that this letter had 
passed through a disaster in the Pennsylvania mountains, in 
which the pilot and seven or eight passengers were killed, is 
a souvenir with more sorts of value than one. The collector 
who has a damaged envelope from the crash at Alhambra, 
California, December 22, 1930 when but little more than 
a third of the 1,445 pounds of mail was saved an envelope 
with burned lower edge and end and a spot of blood near 
the address, has a rare treasure indeed! 

These letters, when badly damaged, are forwarded to the 
addressee in a special large envelope christened "ambu- 
lance cover" by Seymour Dunbar, noted transportation his- 


Above Back of an envelope from Lundy Island, with its 
curious local stamps. 

Mayor's Office, Phllada,, August !7th, 1814 


$20.000 REWARD 

Will be Paid for the Recovery of 


And the Arrest and Convietioi 





The accompanying Photograph is a fokff Ikeness of said boy. He w 
four years ola in Msiy last, and his description on .July 1st, 1874, when 
j was stolen, was as follows : Light flaxen hair worn curled, (it may be c 
| short,) brown or hazel eyes, clear light skin, round full face, dimples 
| checks and chin, fresh color; small fat hands and feet, well formed bo< 
I carriage erect, no marks except those made by vaccination on the ar 
I He is bashful with strangers and has a habit of patting his arm before 1 
j eyes when in their presence, he becomes familiar after short aeqtiai: 
| ance. He talks plainly and could tell his name and those of his paren 

brothers and sisters, and where he lived. 
! He was dressed in broad-brimmed unbleached Panama hat, fancy bra 
black ribbon, nobinding_; brown linen kilt suit with short box pleat 
skirt, blue and white striped stock irgs and laced shoes. 
Be may h dressed as a girl or otherwise disguised. 
This Child was stolen from Washington Lane, German town, by fr 
men in a failing-top buggy, drawn by a dark bay horse on July 1st, 187' 


Chief of Poli\ 

From the Collection of George B. SJoane 

Left A tiny 
ter (natural 
which esca 
from Paris by 
loon during 
German siegi 

-One of 
the bed 
aris in a 
all during 
n 1871. 

^\ % 

B " ^ 



torian and air-mail hobbyist and these envelopes, too, are 
subjects for collection. It was Dunbar, by the way, who re- 
marked in Stamps in 1933 that the "good will flight" of 
Lindbergh to Latin America in 1927 was "the inspiration 
and motive cause of more diversified philatelic items in the 
shape of different postage stamps, envelopes, post cards 
and cachets than any other famous figure of history, per- 
haps excepting George Washington." 

If you wish to go back right to the root of things, of 
course you must get one of the special messages on pelure 
paper sent by balloon in 1850 to Sir John Franklin, who 
was then lost in the Arctic; but it may cost you what is 
laughingly called a pretty penny to wrench this rare item 
away from somebody else. Next you must get envelopes 
sent out by balloon from Paris and Metz while they were 
besieged by the German armies in 1870-71. The ones from 
Metz, tiny ones on thin tissue carried out by small balloons 
mostly of paper, have neither postage stamp nor sending 
cachet, and only rarely have they a receiving cachet; so they 
must be well authenticated and are very rare. Then there 
are the miniature newspapers sent out from Paris by bal- 
loon, sometimes with colored maps of Paris and environs 
printed on thin tissue; also the microscopic film carried 
into Paris by pigeons. Dr. H. E. Radasch of Philadelphia 
and Norman Serphos of New York have wonderful collec- 
tions of this material, including telegrams, both private and 
military. There are other such collections, of course; it must 
be remembered that when we mention a particular one, it 
is usually because we have seen that one and mention that 
one either as typical or as one of the finest of its kind. 

There was a balloon flight from St. Louis in 1859, when 
the American Express Company forwarded a bag of mail 
intended for New York City. The balloon came so near 


falling into Lake Ontario that the aeronaut threw out all 
his ballast, including the mail bag, into the lake, and him- 
self managed to reach shore safely. The mail bag was 
washed up on shore a few days later and the letters, little 
the worse for wear, were forwarded to New York; but none 
are now known to survive. There was another balloon flight 
in 1877, this time from Nashville, for which a five-cent 
stamp was engraved, bearing the picture of a buffalo and 
the words, "Balloon Post." In 1897 and '98 there were 
flights in Germany, from Leipzig and Munich, with a 
cachet for each. Others followed in England and elsewhere 
during the next ten years. In 1897 a pigeon post was started 
between Great Barrier Island and Auckland, New Zealand, 
about sixty-five miles, and in the following year a triangular 
stamp was designed, which is now a philatelic treasure. A 
little later, one of these stamps was overprinted for service 
between Marotiri and Auckland. 

Finally, in 1908, an airplane carried some mail between 
Rome and Turin, via Milan covers now exceedingly rare. 
In 1909 Glenn Curtiss, barnstorming in Italy in one of the 
crude biplanes with which the Wright brothers were then 
experimenting in France, took Gabriele d'Annunzio up one 
day and planted the germ of flying enthusiasm in the soul 
of the poet-dramatist. Curtiss also had some post cards 
made with a picture of the plane and his own portrait 
thereon, and carried some of them, duly postmarked, on 
flights from town to town. One bearing his scribbled auto- 
graph in pencil was in the collection of Dr. Philip G. Cole, 
and at Cole's sale in 1939 passed into the hands of Norman 
Serphos, who has heard of no other autographed copy. 

Also in 1909 the first Zeppelin post appeared in Ger- 
many. On September 23, 1911 curiously enough, the an- 
niversary of the first balloon mail out of Paris in 18703 


few letters and cards were officially carried by a plane from 
Garden City to Mineola, Long Island. And so through the 
several years of experimental flights, the spanning of the 
continent by Macready and Kelly, the notable flights of 
Maughan, Hawks and others, the attempt of the Maud ex- 
pedition of Amundsen to reach the North Pole in 1922, 
the spanning of the ocean by Brown and Alcock and by 
Chamberlain and Levine, all these carried a few letters 
which are "musts" for the collector, if he can possibly lay 
hands on them. 

And of course the Government's first real, regular mail 
service flight between New York and Washington in 1918, 
the first flights between New York and Cleveland, Cleve- 
land and Chicago, the gradual extension by plane-and-rail- 
road relays across the continent, the first all-plane day-and- 
night flight from New York to San Francisco in 1923, the 
first daily transcontinental service in 1924, the first-day 
flights to every American city, to Canada, Cuba, Mexico, 
South America, first-day flights in all other countries, all 
these keep the air collector on his toes constantly. At each 
new venture in cross-ocean service England to South 
Africa, England to Australia, Europe to South America, 
China Clipper, and so on, the load of first-day covers grew 
larger, until when the Yankee Clipper left New York on 
May 2oth, 1939, for the first eastbound flight across the 
Atlantic, it carried 112,574 of those prized collectors' items. 

Air-mail carrying has also brought about, as we have 
already shown, no little racketeering and some stiff exploi- 
tation of collectors, usually with the co-operation or actual 
design of some government. In the flight of the Balbo air 
squadron from Rome to Chicago and back in 1933, sur " 
taxes were laid on the stamps to the extent of from about 
four to nine times their face value. The old Graf Zeppelin, 


LZ-i2y, was the greatest private mail carrier in history. It 
collected far more than a million dollars from philatelists 
for the privilege of having covers decorated with its cachets. 
Many of the nations of the world, including the United 
States, co-operated with it. Its profits have been handsome. 
For example, when it cruised to this country via South 
America in 1930, the United States issued sixty-five-cent 
stamps for post cards and $1.30 and $2.60 stamps for letters 
to be handled by it, according to distance carried. Of these 
sums, the United States collected only its usual share of 
three cents for sending post cards and five cents for letters 
to the ship's base at Friedrichshafen; the Zeppelin got the 
rest. Uncle Sam sold $314,324 worth of these stamps, and 
the majority were not used, but went into albums, giving 
Uncle a nice little profit himself. Of the stamps used, the 
government received less than $3,800 for carrying mail to 
the Zep's starting point, while the Zeppelin company's 
share was $106,310. 

On one trip over Germany, the airship dropped mail at 
fourteen cities. Usually it did not descend at such places, 
but just dropped the bag from the air. On two occasions, 
bags came open as they fell, scattering mail over the land- 
scape and gloom among collectors. On at least two other 
air-post trips, bags fell into the ocean and were not re- 
covered for some time in one case many of the stamps 
being soaked off the letters. This caused some heartburn- 
ing, but the cachets remained on the covers, and it was dis- 
covered that the sea bath and rescue gave them an added 
distinction. The late Dr. Victor M. Berthold, famous New 
York collector, had a large and magnificent album contain- 
ing, we believe, a cover from every mail bag dropped by 
the Zep in its flights, as well as dozens of photographs of 
the big dirigible, inside and out, in many positions and 


places, and photographs of Count Zeppelin, Dr. Eckener 
and much other data. 

When our dirigible Akron fell into the ocean in 1933, a 
portion of the rubberized fabric which formed the outer 
covering of the helium gas cells was recovered from the 
Atlantic off Barnegat Light, New Jersey, and F. Hambroch 
made it into post cards which were franked with a three- 
cent stamp and mailed at Lakehurst on Memorial Day, 
making an unusual collectors' item. 

And speaking of Paris during the Franco-Prussian War, 
has any reader an envelope from the first "submarine mail?" 
You see, the French outside Paris, torturing their brains 
to think of means of communicating with their country- 
men inside the German ring of steel, hatched the idea of 
hollow balls of thin sheet copper or zinc, which were to be 
filled with letters and put into the Seine above the city, 
thence to be rolled by the current downstream until they 
were caught by a net stretched across the stream within the 
city. Of the many balls launched, only one got through but, 
strange as it may seem, some of the envelopes which trav- 
eled in it are still in existence. 

In mid-nineteenth century, not only was the carrying of 
letters in the larger cities done by privately owned "letter 
expresses/' whose stamps are now a collector's joy, but one 
also finds gay little stickers on some envelopes in the 1840*8 
and '50*8 which show that these letters traveled across coun- 
try from town to town by the hands of private concerns. 
Such was the origin of express companies, which conveyed 
letters, money and documents before they thought of han- 
dling freight. The bright red, blue, green and yellow stick- 
ers of Hill's, Jackson's, Pomeroy's, Favor's, Gilman's, Gay, 
Kinsley & Co.'s, Davenport & Mason's and other expresses 
carry the story up to the time when they merged into 


greater companies Adams, National, American, United 
States, Southern, Wells, Fargo & Company; some of these 
carried mail in defiance of the Post Office, up to and even 
after the Civil War. Their covers make a colorful and in- 
structive collection. 

But it was 'Forty-Nine that brought the greatest mass 
of such material into existence. The Pacific Coast became 
populated more rapidly than a slow-coach government 
could bring itself to extend postal facilities, and hundreds 
of expressmen individuals and companies sprang up out 
there to carry letters, packages of money and valuables 
among towns with such names as Red Dog, You Bet, 
Jackass Gulch, Fiddletown, Gouge Eye and Hell's Delight. 
Just as soon as the busy job printers in the little town of 
San Francisco could give them service, they began using 
envelopes with their corner cards thereon, thus preparing 
for the future happiness of many a collector. Through three 
decades thereafter, as new Eldorados were found in Ne- 
vada, Idaho, Montana, Colorado, the Black Hills, Arizona- 
new expresses sprang up to serve their public. W. W. 
Phillips, a collector of Stockton, California, says that he 
has identified 775 of them west of the Mississippi River. 
Henry C. Needham of New York, Ernest A. Wiltsee and 
W. Parker Lyon of California, did notable work in search- 
ing out the history of these concerns and collecting their 

The most enormous collection of these western franks 
of which the author knows is that of Alfred Lichtenstein 
some twenty-five huge albums full, the envelopes set thickly 
overlapping each other in pockets running across the broad 
pages. There are twelve albums full of Wells, Fargo alone! 
What pungent whiffs of Bret Harte color and whimsy one 
finds in the very names as one turns the pages Indian 


Creek Express; the Noisy Carriers; Langton's Pioneer Ex- 
press; Hogan & Co.'s North San Juan and Humbug Ex- 
press; Zack's Express; A. M. Hinkley & Co/s Isthmus of 
Panama Express; Loon Creek Express; English & Wells' 
Moore's Flat and Eureka Express, connecting at Nevada 
City and Emigrant Gap; Dietz & Nelson's British Colum- 
bia and Victoria Express; M. Fettis's Oro Fino Express; 
Cheyenne and Black Hills Express; Tombstone and Pata- 
gonia Express Line. 

There are stories connected with the finding of some of 
these things, too. Mr. Lichtenstein shows you a little sheet 
of twelve type-set stickers on once-green paper, rumpled, 
faded, partly washed out by dampness, and tells how, in a 
half-ruined cabin far up the Fraser River in British Colum- 
bia, whither a gold rush began in 1858, a man found an old 
table minus one of its front legs and with face turned to 
the wall for support. Turning it around, he discovered that 
there was a drawer in it. In that drawer was a rusty tin can, 
tightly covered; and in that can were these stickers of 
Barnard's Cariboo Express, which carried letters to those 
miners eighty years ago. Another of Lichtenstein's chief 
treasures is the cover of a letter which was in a mail bag 
stolen by the Indians in Nevada from the Pony Express in 
1860, recovered and delivered to the addressee two years 

Edward S. Knapp of New York is said to have been the 
pioneer in the collection of corner cards envelopes bearing 
mere printed names and addresses or advertising on front 
or back of businesses, hotels, schools, cults and anything 
else that feels the need of publicity. This sort of thing 
began in the 1850'$. His collection of hotel envelopes is 
particularly notable. Here one finds all the hostelries fa- 
mous in our history the Parker House in Boston, where 


our favorite rolls originated, the old Astor House in New 
York, built by the first John Jacob himself in 1836, the old 
Tremont in Boston, at whose opening banquet in 1829 
Daniel Webster and Edward Everett ate and declaimed; 
the National in Washington, opened in 1827, closed in 
1930, operated by John Gadsby until 1844 and called 
Gadsby's until then, where Andrew Jackson and James 
Buchanan stopped at times, where Thaddeus Stevens and 
Henry Clay lived for years (Clay died there), where John 
Wilkes Booth lived, in whose room the plot against Lin- 
coln was probably contrived; the Palace in San Francisco, 
creation of the spectacular William C. Ralston, where 
California gold and Nevada silver millionaires had their 
headquarters, destroyed in the great cataclysm of 1906; the 
Union Square in New York, where Richard Canfield, 
America's most famous gambler, was night clerk for several 
years in the iSyo's; Delmonico's, into which a ship captain 
came one day and showed the maitre d'hotel how to pre- 
pare a new dish which was christened Lobster Newburg; 
the Broadway Central, still functioning, once the Grand 
Central, in whose lobby Ned Stokes killed Jim Fisk in 
1872; the Hoffman House, headquarters of politicians, pro- 
moters and sports, which had the finest collection of bar- 
room nude art in America, whose "Hoffman House Per- 
fecto," a ten-cent straight cigar, had a copy of one of the 
paintings, "Nymphs and Satyrs" on the lid (of course Mr. 
Knapp has a specimen of that cigar-box label); the Palmer 
House in Chicago, whose proprietor is best remembered as 
the husband of the beautiful and brilliant Mrs. Potter 
Palmer and hundreds of others. 

Mr. Knapp likes to ask you, "What is your native town?" 
and when you answer Oskaloosa, Iowa or Shamokin, Penn- 
sylvania, he plucks one of his albums from the shelf with 


>tt taking JoflT Monkey's 
Dajst Trump. 


Jeff. Davis' Coat ui " AI 


Some of Hugh M. Clark's Civil War "patriotic" envelopes. 

Notice the one at the bottom glorifying the Federal General 

Rosecrans, but bearing a portrait of Jefferson Davis. 

,. oteirirnetz, 





^Ulster -,,t. t 
r.ncisco, 3aa if 

a tr 

122- 5tK -venue 
Kew Y'ork , ... 

From the Collection of Norman Serphos 

Four noted air-mail covers. Reading downward, Amundsen 
Arctic flight of 1922; first continuous transcontinental mail 
flight, 1923; one of the earliest pieces of mail carried by plane 

,' A 

j i 1. j 

i i i 


eager expectation, and is usually able to show you an en- 
velope sent from a hotel which in childhood you regarded 
as a triumph of metropolitan elegance. If he hasn't it, you 
can detect a slight depression in his manner; he feels that 
his life has not quite measured up to the achievement 
which might reasonably be expected of him. 

From hotels Mr. Knapp drifted into the corner cards of 
schools and colleges, another enormous category. Here are 
letters of all periods from all the most famous institutions 
of the country and from many of which the casual observer 
never heard; many, in fact, now long dead. Here are not 
only classical but scientific and professional schools, busi- 
ness colleges galore, "female seminaries/' "young ladies' in- 
stitutes," academies one finds the term, "high school" ap- 
plied away back in the 1850'$ to an academy at which tui- 
tion was paid. There are many delightful names: Music 
Vale Seminary in Connecticut, the Providence Conference 
Seminary, the Commercial, Chirographic and Telegraphic 
Institute of Oberlin, Ohio, the Society of Friends of the 
New London Literary and Scientific Institute only this 
New London was in New Hampshire and the dates are far 
back in 1854-55. In some of the envelopes from New 
London are reports to Mrs. Clarissa Griffin, printed forms 
on blue paper, of the absences, excused and unexcused, 
from chapel, recitations and church service, as well as schol- 
arship standing note that the absences came first in im- 
portanceof her daughters, Miss M. W. Griffin and Miss 
J. Griffin. We are gratified to observe that neither of the 
young ladies had any unexcused absences and that their 
standing in scholarship was high. 

One discovers how extensively envelopes have been used 
for propaganda purposes when one looks through a collec- 
tion like this for Knapp collects corner cards of almost all 


kinds. Religion and temperance, as it used to be called 
later prohibition are the two principal causes found pro- 
moted on envelopes of the past in peace times. One en- 
velope shouts, "2,480,000 Drunkards in the United States, 
of whom 120,000 die annually, while 120,000 sober 
youth are yearly doomed to replenish the ranks/' Another 
cover has practically a whole history in small type on its 
face, with the suggestion in larger letters, "Have this pub- 
lished in your local papers." Of course the political en- 
velopes are legion; and the earliest propaganda cover of any 
sort that Mr. Knapp has been able to find bears simply the 
portrait of General Winfield Scott when that old gentle- 
man was running for the Presidency in 1852, as all generals 
used to do sooner or later. There were letterheads boost- 
ing William Henry Harrison for the Presidency in 1840 
(Knapp has one, of course), carrying his portrait and his 
trademarks, the log cabin and the barrel of cider, but that 
was before envelopes came into general use, and this letter, 
folded over and sealed, became its own cover. 

What isn't in this fascinating collection! Here are en- 
velopes from livery stables elegantly designating themselves 
as "Horse Mansion" and "Horse Hotel"; several from Bar- 
num's American Museum in New York, 1857-60 (with 
much other Barnum material); from the management of 
the Seven Sutherland Sisters, whose hair trailed upon the 
floor; from little forgotten railroads, some of which never 
got anywhere; from Tex Rickard's prize-fight promotions at 
Goldfield, when that boom town was in its heyday; several 
very ornate ones issued by Elihu Burritt, "the learned black- 
smith," who yearned for international peace and under- 
standing, but whose principal object in these envelopes was 
the carriage of letters across the Atlantic for a British 


penny. "Britain, from Thee the World Expects Penny Pos- 
tage" is flaunted on a banner across several of them. 

There are other specialized collections of corner cards; 
that of Stephen G. Rich of Verona, New Jersey, for ex- 
ample, of old schoolbook publishers; surprising to find how 
many of them are still in business after sixty or eighty years. 
And there is Theodore E. Stein way's collection of piano 
makers and dealers; all the early Steinway, Chickering, 
Mason & Hamlin, Knabe and other names, together with 
many now almost or quite forgotten Haines Brothers, 
Hallet & Allen, Carhart & Needham, manufacturers of 
melodeons, John Farris of Hartford, Joseph Foster, maker 
of organs and melodeons at Keene, New Hampshire, in 
the '50'$. There are many modern dealers' envelopes, too, 
ranging from the most dignified all the way down to 
"Popple's; See Si Before You Buy. Grand Forks, N.D." 
and "Redewill Music Co., One Blok West of Cort House 
Water Hole since 1881, Fenix, Arizonny." 

By far the most enormous group of propaganda enve- 
lopes in our history was that of the so-called patriotics, is- 
sued mostly during the Civil War for it is only in war- 
time that we grow really patriotic. The war with Spain in 
1898 and the World War produced much smaller crops. 
There are many collections of these, but that of Hugh M. 
Clark of New York, containing somewhere near ten thou- 
sand varieties, practically all of Civil War vintage, and fill- 
ing ninety albums, is the most remarkable one within our 

These began with pictures of the flags, Union and Con- 
federate (in colors, of course), pictures of soldiers in camp 
and out, of men rushing into battle, of the American eagle, 
Miss Liberty, and Miss Columbia (often you can't tell 
which), liberty bells and caps, cannon and bits of verse, 


patriotic or satirical, some of them the worst doggerel that 
ever crawled from a pen. Both sides flaunted emblems of 
freedom and cheered for liberty. In addition to the printed 
envelopes, there were stickers bearing all these emblems 
and scenes, which were pasted on an upper corner of the 

Some of the earliest of the Confederate specimens are 
mailed in United States three-cent stamped envelopes, this 
being before the Confederate postal service had gotten into 
operation. The Confederate flag appeared with numerous 
mottoes-'The Flag of the Oppressed," "Bully for C.S.A.," 
"We Ask no Favours," "A Bitter Pill for Lincoln," "In- 
vincible!" "Prodigious!" On the Northern side, eagles 
clutched the Serpent of Rebellion in their claws, while the 
same pudgy infant clutching a snake appeared on both 
Northern and Southern envelopes, in one case the reptile 
being "Secession," in the other "Abolition." The identical 
aspect of the child seems to argue that the two batches 
were turned out in the same shop. As a matter of fact, most 
of the Confederate covers were produced in Northern 
shops, and the South was able to get them from New York 
by water for several months after the war began fancy 
that! But with the clapping down of the blockade this was 
stopped, and before long, people in the South were making 
envelopes out of wrapping paper, wall paper, the backs of 
advertising circulars or just taking used envelopes apart and 
turning them inside out. 

Portraits of the leading Confederate generals, the Cab- 
inet, and other statesmen are found with the imprint of 
Charles Magnus, 12 Frankfort Street, New York. How 
many of these actually reached the South, we do not know; 
for Mr. Clark tells us that less than half of the alleged 
Confederate envelopes were actually used in those states; 


the others were printed in the North for sale to collectors! 
But there are some bitter and satirical ones which are iden- 
tified as genuine, some of them actually turned out in 
Southern printeries. When a Northern envelope pictured 
an aristocratic Southron in bed with a Negro woman, a 
Southern printer retorted with a picture of a depraved-look- 
ing Yankee reformer with a fat colored woman on his knee, 
and the legend, "This is how the Abolitionists loves the 

There was an interesting tendency to represent public 
men as animals; smart, likable animals if the men were on 
your side, the lowest of all fauna if they were on the other. 
The Southern President Davis was naturally the favorite 
target, being pictured variously as the Devil, as a snake, 
wolf, fox, monkey, rat, cat, chicken, crow or weasel. A 
favorite Northern cartoon showed a big bulldog in cocked 
hat, supposed to be General Winfield Scott, while a 
smaller, slinking cur was "Jeff Davis." Between them was 
what was intended to be a rib roast, marked "Washing- 
ton." "Well, why don't you take it?" growls Scott. One of 
the few zoological sneers from the South is found on a pic- 
ture of a cotton bale, with the vaunt, "Cotton defeated 
Packenham, and cotton will defeat APE LINCOLN." 

Both sides pictured and claimed Washington, Martha 
Washington and Charles Carroll of Carrollton, and the 
North even enlisted old Ben Franklin, as "A Northern 
Man with Union Principles." Each side showed opposing 
celebrities dangling from the gallows. Lincoln was pictured 
in scores of ways; in company with every important Fed- 
eral general; on many campaign covers, with and without 
Hamlin in 1860, with and without Andrew Johnson in 
1864. He is pictured splitting rails, and one cover has a 
crude rail fence along the top and one end, labeled, "The 


fence that Abe built." Another combines his portrait with 
the fence and a flatboating scene, explained as "Honest 
Abe Lincoln on his flatboat." Mr. Clark actually has a 
whole album full of envelopes inspired by the killing of 
Colonel Ellsworth of New York at Alexandria in the first 
days of the war portraits of Ellsworth, pictures of the 
hotel where the episode occurred, numerous versions of 
the tearing down of the flag and the death scene itself, 
pictures of Zouaves, and one cover containing a terse alleged 
letter from the real hero of the affair: "FATHER: Col. Ells- 
worth was shot dead this morning. I killed his murderer. 


Some comic stunts by the printers are revealed. All the 
eminent Union generals were given envelopes to them- 
selves, with their names in huge letters, often in red and 
blue. One of these bears the caption, "Rosecrans, the 
Hero of the West," but the portrait is unmistakably that 
of Jefferson Davis. This might have been a genuine error 
of the printer, or it might be explained on the theory that 
it was a rush job, the printer had no cut of Rosecrans and 
could lay hands on no photograph immediately from which 
to make a cut, and that he thought so few were acquainted 
with Rosecrans's aspect that he could get away with the 

One interesting discovery made by Mr. Clark has to 
do with a picture of a standing small boy in sailor costume, 
supporting with his right hand the staff of a United States 
flag, its base resting on the floor. This appeared on two 
types of covers. Clark has recently found that the picture 
was a faithful copy of a portrait, at the age of two and a 
half years, of Perry Belmont still alive painted by East- 
man Johnson at The Hague in 1853. 

As usual, there is some delightful reading in the letters 


sent in these envelopes. Of two of Mr. Clark's gems, one 
is from a Federal private at Hilton Head, South Carolina, 
in 1862, in which he tells the home folks, among other 
things, "Tomorrow morning at 11 oclock, Private Lunt of 
the Qth Regiment Maine volinteers is to be shot in presents 
of the whole command. He deserted from said Regt some 
time ago and went over to the rebells in florida but was so 
mean they would not keep him they came with a flag of 
Truce and gave him up." 

On a note-head with a Lincoln portrait and the caption, 
"The Nation mourns his loss," a private still marooned on 
Lookout Mountain on July 8, 1865, "having a few lesure 
moments, thought I would right a few lines" to father and 
mother. His principal news was, "The 3d of July my pay 
was $63 20/100. The forth was very dul exept about the 
hole of the Brigaid was drunk and four men was killed 
and about 300 deserted." 

Among other collectors of patriotics, Dr. Thomas O. 
Gamble has a fine collection of the Spanish-American War 
Rough Riders, "Remember the Maine," Cuban flags, 
battle scenes, camps, regimentals, sentimentals, comics, ad- 
vertising (even "Hood's Sarsaparilla" sneaked in on some 
of them ) , and all the heroes McKinley, Roosevelt, Dewey, 
Hobson, Schley, Sampson, Clark, Shafter, Watson, Sigsbee, 
Miles, Lee, Evans. 

There have been times when revenue stamps were neces- 
sary on telegrams; and there have been telegraph companies 
whose customers paid for telegrams with the company's 
own specially designed stamps. Furthermore, the big com- 
panies to this day hand out yearly to close friends and 
insiders sheets of stamps for the free franking of their tele- 
grams. All these combine to make interesting collections, 
of which that of Frank E. Lawrance of Jersey City is the 


most notable one we have seen. But once the first false step 
is taken, anyone can see to what this may lead. The first 
thing you know, the besotted enthusiast is collecting the 
telegrams themselves and the envelopes of all companies 
(and there were still 217 of them in the United States in 
1886), regardless whether they have stamps on them or 
not. And Mr. Lawrance has yet another interesting side- 
linea large assortment of the courtesy cards which the 
many telegraph companies fifty years ago passed around 
yearly to the presidents of all the other companies, so that 
no executive ever had to pay for sending a telegram. 

This drifting into quiet byways becomes at times an 
irresistible thing. Edward Stern, when once he had started 
on his collection of Presidential and other governmental 
franks, found himself powerless to stop. He went right on 
to picking up autograph letters of the Presidents, auto- 
graphed photographs of them as far back as he could go, 
then their bank checks there seemed no end to it! His 
greatest prize in this line is a check drawn by Washington 
on the Bank of Alexandria in 1797 for $500. We learn from 
his collection that President Wilson once drew a check for 
one dollar and President Taft one for fifteen cents. Finally, 
Stern found that he had to collect ribbon badges, mostly 
Presidential campaign badges with portraits of the candi- 
dates and slogans, but also badges of patriotic celebrations, 
anniversaries and memorial celebrations for great statesmen 
and generals. 

Collections of postal miscellany or oddities are lots of 
fun for the owner. Here you will find letters sent during 
great disaster periods, such as epidemics when the en- 
velopes might have holes cut in each end so that fumigation 
might be blown through them floods, fires, train wrecks, 
shipwrecks, plane crashes. When San Francisco, post office 


and all, was overwhelmed by earthquake and fire in 1906, 
no stamps were procurable there for days afterwards, and 
by an emergency ruling, people simply paid the cash to 
transmit the letter, which was postmarked and sent on 
without stamp. Stationery was hard to get, too, and people 
wrote letters on collars, cuffs, shingles, mere scraps of paper 
and pieces of glove and sent them through the mails. 

In the oddity collection of George B. Sloane of New 
York you may see some of these curiosities. He has one of 
the stampless San Francisco letters, on which the Phila- 
delphia post office, which apparently hadn't heard of the 
emergency ruling ("Always slow!" the New Yorkers point 
out), stuck a postage-due stamp. He has the cover of a 
letter which sank with the mail steamship Oregon off Long 
Island in 1886, and was recovered four months later, as 
attested by a post-office label; another, from Japan, dam- 
aged in the wreck of the Twentieth Century Limited on 
the fourth trip eastward of that famous train, June 21, 
1905, when nineteen persons were killed. He has eight 
stamps which passed through the Equitable Building fire 
in New York in 1912, showing the effects of water and 
chemicals; some darkened, some lightened, one, a blue five- 
center, almost faded out. 

He has the large envelope which carried a letter to Presi- 
dent Harding from a crank who thus announced himself 
on the back: "From God Almighty, who comes to judge 
the living and the dead. Woe be unto him who heeds not 
my voice and does not as I will." Along the top and down 
the ends of the envelope he had affixed seventeen stamps 
of all denominations from one cent up to one dollar; nearly 
four dollars' worth, all told. To our eyes, one of the gems 
of Sloane's collection is a post card sent out in 1874 to 
sheriffs and police chiefs the country over, carrying news 


of the kidnaping of little Charley Ross the first kidnap- 
ing for ransom in our history and the only one for several 
decades thereafter and offering a reward of $20,000 for his 
recovery. Space is lacking to tell of all of Mr. Sloane's oddi- 
ties, and it may be said that no collection is more thor- 
oughly explained and documented on the album pages. 
Like many another collector, the vagaries of our American 
post-office names have tempted him into whimsy. His is a 
post-office romance, and is represented by letters post- 
marked in succession from Liberty, N. Y., Friendship, Me., 
Love, Va., Kissimmee, Fla., Ringgold, Ga., Church, Iowa, 
Home, Ore., Bliss, Neb., and Boise, Idaho. We are a little 
dubious about the last item, but let it pass. Others find 
postal menus in the many towns in our country bearing the 
names of food even including such gems as Hot Coffee, 
Mississippi and Yuletide stories in such place names as 
Christmas, Holly, Mistletoe, Santa Glaus, Jerusalem and 
Nazareth. Incidentally, one ought to have one of those thou- 
sands of letters postmarked from Santa Glaus, Indiana, 
every year, whether one is an oddity collector or not. 

Some foreign countries pick up pin money by selling 
advertising space on their stamps; and of course these 
things must be collected. On the back of each stamp of 
certain issues in New Zealand were printed (before the 
gum was applied) ads of soap, pills, cocoa, jellies, carpets 
and other commodities. France leases the white margins 
around whole sheets of stamps to advertisers. France, Bel- 
gium and Italy have lately had a practice of attaching an 
advertising stamp to each postage stamp sold in the small 
books such as are used in this country. The trailer is of 
the same size as the attached postage stamp, but carries a 
blurb for liquor, phonographs, radios, sewing machines, 
anything that will buy the space. "Macchine Singer Percu- 


cire" on an Italian booklet does it have a familiar sound? 
There are many nowadays who collect Red Cross, Jewish, 
and Christmas seals and these run into the thousands of 
varieties. Others go in for oddities, errors, misprints, cracked 
plates. One wants "Valentine covers with interesting postal 
markings." Some concentrate on a small political unit such 
as Surinam, that remote colony which contains so few 
white people. John D. Stanard of Chattanooga, Tennessee, 
found an odd byway and an interesting study in the local 
stamps of Lundy Island, a rock-bound British possession 
lying at the mouth of the Bristol Channel and privately 
owned by a wealthy Londoner, Martin Coles Harman, 
who practically ordered the British post off the island some 
years ago and installed his own mail service to the main- 
land, with stamps of his own design, valued at from one 
to twelve "Puffins" the seabird of that name, a cousin of 
the great auk, being a constant resident of the island. 
When Mr. Harman casually remarked that he had dis- 
missed the General Post Office from the place, Punch ex- 

We hardly hoped that we would meet 
Such men; and yet can History show 

A speech more royal, more complete 
Than "I dismissed the G P O.?" 

Harman also brought air-mail service to the islet, and 
there are cancellations and cachets to delight the hobbyist's 
heart. Mr. Stanard writes us that he was laughed at at first 
for his interest in Lundy, but that at present there are 
thirty-six serious specialists in its stamps in America and 
twenty-eight in Europe. 

But there are yet stranger bypaths. Some large concerns 
keep on hand a full supply of stamps of all denominations 


for heavier first-class mail, and there are those who make 
special collections of covers stamped with these larger 
values six-cent, eight-cent, eleven-cent, thirteen-cent, sev- 
enteen-cent and all the rest. And here is another curious 
one. Some large companies, in an effort to prevent the 
private use of their stamp drawer by employees, have their 
stamps marked with their initials, made with pinhole per- 
forations. The object of certain specialists is to find on 
covers these stamps used in an unauthorized way. For ex- 
ample, the collector's searching eye detects on a letter a 
stamp perforated "A.T. & T." But up in the corner is 
penned a private return address Percy Woof, 96 Shake- 
speare Avenue, New York. It is evident that Percy is either 
an A.T. & T. employee or a friend of one, and is using a 
stamp filched from the company's stamp box. They say 
there are some considerable collections of this sort. 

One of the loveliest exhibits to be seen at the New York 
World's Fair during the summer of 1939 was an example 
of what one may do if one has both an idea and great 
artistic ability. Mr. James T. Dye of New York, a water- 
color artist of superlative skill, has painted upon the fronts 
of large, white bond envelopes of fine quality, the coats of 
arms of many countries of the world in their own rich 
colorings, placed blocks of four of the country's own stamps 
upon them and asked the heads of those governments to 
autograph them for him. The drawings are so beautiful 
that the rulers have in most cases capitulated, though a 
few of the more stiff-necked handed the autographing job 
over to a prime minister. So far, Mr. Dye has the signa- 
tures of the kings of Great Britain (with the queen), of 
Sweden (with crown prince and princess), Norway, Den- 
mark, Jugoslavia and Siam the last-named first sent to 


Bangkok, forwarded by the government to the little king, 
now studying in Switzerland, autographed by him and re- 
turned to Siam, then forwarded to New York. Mr. Dye 
has the presidents of France, Finland, Switzerland, Lithu- 
ania, Estonia, Liberia, Cuba, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, 
Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, the 
Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica 
and Salvador; the British governor-generals of Canada, 
Southern Rhodesia, New Zealand and Gibraltar, the prime 
ministers of Egypt, the Netherlands and Iceland; the 
Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg, Dictators 
Horthy of Hungary and De Valera of Ireland; also on 
separate covers, Prime Ministers Ramsay MacDonald and 
Stanley Baldwin. 

Two of Dye's greatest achievements are, first, the en- 
velope with the coat of arms of the United States, which 
bears the signatures of President Roosevelt, Governor Leh- 
man of New York, Mayor La Guardia and Postmaster 
Goldman of New York City; second, the one which carries 
the autographs of the British monarchs. Anyone would 
have laid a wager with him that he would never get those 
latter signatures. But when the envelope reached Bucking- 
ham Palace, little Princess Margaret Rose saw it and 
wanted it for her stamp collection; so after some negotia- 
tion, after Mr. Dye's assurance that the cover would not be 
sold nor used for commercial purposes, and that he would 
paint another envelope just like this one for the little 
princess, back came the autographs of Royal George and 

He likewise has the autographs of the governor of every 
one of the forty-eight states on envelopes bearing copies of 
the state seal; he has painted pictures of many of our war- 


ships with comely backgrounds and so won the autographs 
of admirals and commanders of those ships. There are other 
items, too, in this collection unique in the world, which, 
Mr. Dye says, will eventually go to the Philatelic Museum 
or the Smithsonian in Washington. 



(HE EDITOR of the Rocky 


Mountain Stamp, his face 

f f 

aglow with high purpose, 
seized his pen one day in 1899 and under the heading, 
"Some Benefits of Philately/' wrote of the happy state of 
children who invest their pennies in good stamps (chil- 
dren's pocket money was counted in pennies then, you will 
notice) and are compelled to save in order to procure rare 
specimens. "On the other hand," he observed, "the child 
who spends his money for candy, chewing gum, etc., gen- 
erally acquires no knowledge of saving, and at the same 
time, is continually undermining his health." 

We have never seen the proposition better stated. The 
thesis is just as true today as it was forty years ago; but 
unfortunately, the depraved taste for candy, chewing gum 
and ice cream still maintains its fell clutch upon our chil- 
dren, and many cases are even found today among adults. 

Seriously, there is no fad to which childhood is subject 
that is so wholesome, educational and practical as stamp 
collecting. Its value in teaching history and geography have 
been dwelt upon often enough. As to its practicality, there 
is nothing which gratifies the youthful urge to collect, 
which so maintains its market value. If the youngster in- 
vests in our commemoratives, they will at least be worth 



face value for postage purposes, if he tires of the hobby. If 
he has the advantage of a bit of wise guidance and does not 
spend too much on junk, he will lay the foundation for 
a collection which may be very valuable some day, espe- 
cially if he is encouraged to concentrate on some one or 
two particular objectives. 

For it must be said that specialization, and intensive spe- 
cialization at that, will be the chief hope for the building 
of collections that will be apt to sell for more than cost. 
We shall probably in the next fifty years see no such re- 
markable rise in values as has taken place in the past fifty. 
If elderly people now alive had from thirty-five to fifty 
years ago bought stamps which they could have had at from 
fifty cents or less up to ten dollars, they could sell many of 
them now for fifty, a hundred, some several hundred dol- 
lars. If they had been smart enough to lay away some sheets 
of our Columbians of 1893, ^ e Y wou ld have picked up a 
nice bit of interest on their investment. 

We have told how the young Maine collector, F. W. 
Ayer, put some thousands into speculation in mint sheets 
of this series, then suffered a chill in the lower extremities 
and sold out. A corner in the one-dollar value was at- 
tempted soon after its issue, and the price pushed up to 
nine dollars before it broke. John Wanamaker decided that 
if the one-dollar was a good speculation, the two-dollar 
ought to be still better. He bought ten-thousand dollars' 
worth of them in sheets, and they were still in his vault 
when he died in 1926. Unused, they are worth twenty- 
five dollars per stamp today. But the four-cent, now worth 
two dollars, would have been a still better gamble. Try 
compound interest on four cents from 1893 on, and see 
how much better it would have been than money-lending. 

Again in recent years, many persons have been misled 


World Photos 

ve Quanti- 

of newly is- 

stamps have 

bought in 

ts as a specu- 

n in recent 

Wide World Photos 

An expert checking the perforations on a stamp. Wi 




at a dealer's be 

fernational News Photos 


ight Two Parisian ex- 
erts discuss specimens. 


into storing quantities of sheets of the commemorative 
stamps of this and other countries, in the hope of big 
future profits. There is a far greater weakness in the idea 
today than in '93, because it's all so overdone both the 
number of commemoratives and the number of specula- 
tions. The great rush into this adventure began about 
1934-35. O ne man f whom we heard had had five thou- 
sand pieces of glassine paper cut to the proper size to stow 
between sheets of stamps to protect the gum. Not only 
United States but Great Britain seemed a good bet, because 
Britain had not hitherto been so reckless with the pretty- 
pretties as had other countries. Certain banks and loan 
companies began lending money on sheets at from seventy- 
five to eighty per cent of face value. It became a pernicious 
habit to buy a thousand dollars' worth of new sheets, bor- 
row $750 on it, take that and buy $750 worth more, borrow 
$500 or $600 on that, then buy $500 more we don't know 
how far this pyramiding went in extreme cases, but it was 
sheer madness, of course, for no one could expect within 
his lifetime to cash in on those sheets at sufficient profit 
to pay the interest. 

The peak of the boom has been variously estimated to 
have arrived with the King George V Silver Jubilee issue 
and with the George VI Coronation issue. The latter seems 
more nearly correct; for we know that with our industrial 
"recession" of 1937, the bull market in mint sheets began 
to weaken in this country. Borrowers couldn't keep up 
their interest payments, the bankers seized the sheets and 
began to unload them. Within the next two years there 
were many sales made at less than face value. 

There was a rather silly speculation in the Typex sheet 
of 19363 special sheet of 120 stamps, printed in panes of 
four. One pane, with a face value of twelve cents, was 


pushed up to twenty, twenty-five, even to fifty cents and 
beyond. "It'll go to four dollars," the speculators were 
telling buyers and even each other. Then the bottom fell 
out, and today the pane can be had for about thirty-five 
cents. There have been attempts before to corner a certain 
stamp the first crude four-skillings of Norway which was 
selling for ten cents in 1897 when Me^eel's Weekly won- 
dered why somebody didn't buy it up and raise the price. 
This was not done save half-heartedly for several years 
afterward; then E. T. Wallis of Indianapolis attempted a 
corner, and actually paid from $3 to $6.50 per copy in his 
effort to achieve it. He eventually accumulated a thousand 
copies, which were later sold to a New York dealer, doubt- 
less at much less than what Wallis had paid for them; but 
the price of the stamp had been considerably raised. In the 
same manner two other men who thought the five-cent 
U. S. 1847 was too cheap at thirty-five cents per copy began 
buying it up, paying seventy-five cents and a dollar arti- 
ficially until they had at least ten thousand copies. They 
lost some money, but they boosted the price of the stamp 
forevermore, and it has continued to rise. Look it up in the 
catalogues today. 

The dramatist Sardou introduced into his Famille Benoi- 
ton, written in 1865, a shrewd little broker of eight years 
of age who, having a straight tip that the American Con- 
federacy was headed for the rocks, got the better of his 
little comrades on the Champs Elysees Bourse by buying 
all the Confederate stamps they had, which he was able to 
sell at a nice profit a short time later when news came that 
Lee had surrendered at Appomattox, and the Southern 
nation was no more. As this chapter is being written, the 
best of American experts are sharply divided as to the effect 



that the war now raging in Europe, or rather, in the waters 
around Europe, may have upon philately. Some stamp- 

PARIS, 1875 

dealers' advertising shows the tendency to trade upon the 
situation: "Czechoslovakia his disappeared. Poland is dead. 
Prices on their stamps will go skyward soon. This is your 
last chance." There will be new countries, too, in the cata- 


logues Slovakia is already emerging and war rarities and 
overprintings and unique cancellations will be promoted 
by some just as they were after the World War. 

But what will be the effect in general upon philately? 
Some veterans say stamp prices will collapse. Others are 
quite as confident that we are due for a boom; and these 
point to the war of 1914-1918 as a precedent. That war 
created thousands of new collectors in this country; people 
who came in contact with foreign letters and postal service, 
saw curious postmarks, war tax, charity and other stamps, 
and became stamp conscious. That this may happen again 
to some extent seems more likely than the more pessimistic 
surmise, especially as a betterment of business may be 
brought about by the war. But it may be just as well to 
consider the opinion of the third group of veterans who 
are saying that no one can tell what will happen. 

During the last war not only the philatelic rookies but 
even some old campaigners were lured into buying heavily 
by the flood of stamps of new governments, occupation, 
provisional, surcharges and a thousand others as yet un- 
catalogued, often paying fancy prices which could not be 
realized afterward. Kent B. Stiles, philatelic editor of the 
New York Times, cites one collector who spent $6,000 
during the war years on a collection of what might be called 
war stamps, at prices then asked, and found several years 
later that he couldn't get more than $300 for it. No defi- 
nite information is available as this is written about the new 
provisional printings, and European dealers who lay hands 
on the stamps first are naturally going to get all they can 
out of America for them; some will even misrepresent them 
a bit in their eagerness to sell. 

Mr. Stiles further observes that sixty-four Red Cross 


stamps issued by twenty-three French colonies were priced 
in the Scott catalogue shortly after the World War at 
$131; in the 1940 edition they are quoted at $71, a decline 
of about forty-five per cent. Slightly less than three hun- 
dred occupation stamps coming from Hungary were priced 
at nearly $1,100 just after the great war, but only $415 
now, a recession of more than thirty-seven per cent. Some 
occupation stamps of other warring countries, however, 
have held their own or increased in value; Cameroons from 
$550 to $830, for example, and Saar from $28 to $200. All 
of which suggests pretty clearly that prophesying as to 
future values of stamps of the present war is a futile pas- 

That great expert, Charles }. Phillips, wrote a pamphlet 
in 1923 entitled, Postage Stamps as an Investment, and 
therein listed the items which he considered worth buying 
with a view to increase in value. He believed that our Con- 
federate States represented the best opportunity of all. Next 
he mentioned the United States official departmental 
stamps; and then he listed Argentina, 1858-72; Austria, 
1850-77; Barbados, 1852-78; Belgium, 1849-61, or even 
down to '83 but the list of more than fifty others is too 
long to reproduce here; you will have to read his book if 
you want it all. He doesn't consider it necessarily valid 
now, since the new war broke out. "Fm not giving any 
advice at all now/' he said shortly, when asked about it. 
"Who can tell what will happen?" 

Mr. Stiles, searching the catalogues, past and present, 
finds interesting proof of the statement that the values of 
many good stamps are advancing steadily in the present 
century. Supporting Mr. Phillips's citation of Austria as an 
investment, Mr. Stiles shows that its regular issues from 


1850 through 1910 were quoted at about $73 before the 
World War, at $93 in 1919 and $150 in the 1940 cata- 
logue. He quotes others which Phillips did not mention; 
as for example: 


1913 1919 1940 
Bavaria's stamps, unused. ... $400 $466 $726 

Bavaria's stamps, used 56 104 307 

Caroline Islands 12 22 107 

Poland 1860, Russian occupa- 
tion, unused 2.50 4 8 

It has not been so many moons since we were being 
told by the best informed men in philately, 'There'll never 
be any more prices like that $32,500 for the British Guiana 
'56 because there won't be anybody to pay them. Great 
fortunes are being confiscated by governments, and there 
will be no more vastly rich collectors." As far as the factual 
part of the statement goes, this is true; but when we come 
to the prophecy ah, that is quite another matter. Who 
would wager much against the possibility that some physi- 
cist may find a way to throw television five hundred, a 
thousand miles or more, and that he and the men who 
back him may become multi-billionaires and stamp collec- 
tors? Who can say that some other new widget may not 
be discovered which will speedily become a necessity and 
make its producers rich? Within a week in November, 
1939, remarkable new gold strikes were announced in 
Georgia and California. Is Nature preparing to turn kindly 
and create some new millionaires in those areas? 

That there are still men wealthy enough and willing to 
pay well for fine stamps was shown late in 1938 by the 
purchases already mentioned in Chapter IX by Esmond 


Bradley Martin, Jr., of the 1869 block of inverts for $25,000, 
and other rarities at top prices. It is reported that not only 
he but others are quietly building collections which may 
some day surpass Ferrary 's, Hind's or Green's. Neverthe- 
less, prices in general were sagging at the time of Mr. 
Martin's big purchase, and the publishers of the 1940 
Standard Catalogue, compiled in the summer of 1939, were 
a bit pessimistic over the outlook; so much so that they 
figured a decline in the estimated value of more than 500 
stamps, amounting to about $992. Some fifty stamps had 
been marked up a little, however, making the net reduc- 
tion a trifle more than $890. 

But the catalogue had not yet appeared when some auc- 
tion sales in the late summer and fall sounded a more 
optimistic note. At the sale of the collection of Dr. Phillip 
G. Cole of Tarrytown, N. Y., one of the two known mint 
copies of the Honduras twenty-five-centavos on ten-centavo 
dark blue sold for $5,300 and the five-centavo blue 1925 
overprinted in red brought $3,900, which proved that such 
items are not exactly going begging. But the sale of the 
American collection of the late Stephen D. Brown of Glens 
Falls, N. Y., early in November, was an eye-opener for the 
entire fraternity. A London firm of auctioneers had won 
the privilege of selling the collection, but the outbreak of 
war made the sale in England impracticable, and it was 
transferred to the Collectors Club in New York. The auc- 
tioneers admitted afterward that they had expected to real- 
ize only somewhere between seventy-five and eighty-five 
thousand dollars; instead the total sales were $106,625.50. 
Many prices were above catalogue quotations, and some of 
them broke records. 

For example, a twenty-four-cent air mail of 1918 with in- 
verted center, sold for $4,100, a decidedly different figure 


from the $2,500 received for each of two copies of the 
same stamp by the same auctioneers at a sale in London 
earlier in the year, and the $2,750 paid by Senator Fre- 
linghuysen in 1932. A mint block of four of the 1893 Co- 
lumbian five-dollar, catalogued at $1,000, brought $1,150, 
and a similar block of the four-dollar, catalogued at $750, 
was knocked off at $925. A St. Louis postmaster ten-cent 
greenish on cover sold for $1,075, about double the cata- 
logue price. Another envelope bearing both the five- and 
ten-cent 1847 sold for $1,100, which was precisely three 
and two-thirds times what the cataloguers thought it was 

A Wells-Fargo Pony Express one-dollar, tied to its cover 
by the pony-running-horse frank and with St. Joseph post- 
mark sold for $520, the highest price ever known, and 
$370 above catalogue. When a similar cover sold for $160 
in London a year before, it was thought to have done 
nobly. Dozens of other items sold for more than the cata- 
loguer's figures. "Damn-fool prices!" grumbled some con- 
servatives; but to others they were a cheering sign; they 
seemed to prove that philately is still on the up-grade. And 
then, a few days later, came the sale at Boston of the collec- 
tion of Judge Robert S. Emerson of Providence, when one 
of the only two known blocks of four of the fifteen-dollar 
ultramarine mortgage revenue stamp sold for $450, a 
hitherto unheard-of price, and a two-cent playing card 
stamp, imperforate, brought $152.50, which was exactly 
$150 more than the catalogue price of a perforated copy. 
On the heels of this came the news that Colonel E. H. R. 
Green's collection is to be sold soon, and predictions that 
instead of the $1,298,444 appraisal valuation placed upon 
it, it will, if given favorable auction conditions, bring more 
than $2,000,000. 


What could have brought about such buying enthusiasm 
at these sales and this strengthened confidence in future 
prices? Well, perhaps the war in Europe has something to 
do with it. Steel is strengthening, airplanes are building 
and more war orders are looked for. Even those gold strikes 
in Georgia and California may touch the public conscious- 
ness pleasantly; for remember that it was largely the gold 
and silver dug from the earth in the west between 1850 
and 1900 that made this the world's richest nation, and in 
turn elevated many a humble little scrap of paper into a 
philatelic treasure worth thousands of times its weight in 

One point which has been made increasingly evident in 
these recent sales, and one which should be driven home 
in the mind of new collectors (not to mention the old), 
is that fine condition of the stamp is coming more and 
more to be a requisite. Creased, tattered, soiled, faded or 
heavily canceled stamps are not apt to bring high prices 
unless there is only a corporal's guard of their kind in exist- 

For those who cannot compete for these greatest of rari- 
ties, the hope of the future lies, as we have said, in intensive 
specialization and development of a single narrow category. 
We have already mentioned dozens of byways, and there 
are yet others covered in a manner showing a degree of 
study and loving care such as can scarcely be found else- 
where than in the laboratory of a great chemist or physicist, 
or in the ivory tower of a scholar to whom study and re- 
search are more essential to life than food. Many concen- 
trate on just one stamp a Los Angeles dentist, for example, 
on the President Hayes eleven-cent of 1922, in all its forms 
and shades we've forgotten how many he can count run- 
ning the whole gamut of blue and into green. 


Another, Mr. Pickard of Greenville, Delaware, has spent 
rather more money on a collection of the ninety-cent bi- 
color of 1869. He has it with the several shades of red with 
which the printers unintentionally varied the frame; he 
has the engravers' tryouts on cardboard in green and brown, 
green and blue, brown and blue, brown and black and so 
on; essays of the frame alone; some with a portrait of 
Washington instead of Lincoln, which latter was finally 
used these portraits in black, with frames of taupe, orange, 
brown, blue; plate proofs on India paper; proofs on card- 
board with normal and inverted portrait; cancellations in 
black, red and blue; varieties. It is a biological history of 
the stamp. 

Howard Lederer, a New York broker, has centered his 
attention on the two-cent black Harding Memorial stamp, 
issued just after the President's death in 1922. He has a 
sheet autographed by Mrs. Harding, all the position blocks 
of four and six, used and unused, top and sides of sheet, 
a double paper block, a double plate-number block of 
twenty-five with the Bureau employees' initials, singles, 
pairs and blocks with slight misalignments, plate smears, 
frame break, vertical imperforates, canceled covers show- 
ing the plate layout lines and position dots. There is a 
sample of the coil used in the Shermack stamp-vending 
machine; a strip of six on an air-mail cover, first flight from 
Los Angeles to Salt Lake; a first-day cover from Marion, 
Ohio, carrying a letter from the postmaster to the superin- 
tendent of the Division of Stamps; a beautifully mounted 
proof, one of ten made by order of Postmaster-General New 
for presentation to members of the Harding family; black- 
bordered mourning letters and envelopes from all the gov- 
ernment departments, franked with plate-number blocks 
of four and six; the official Department notice of the issu- 


ance of the stamp; seaport and other cancellations, news- 
paper clippings about the stamp, and finally a handsome, 
full-sized etching of the pen portrait of Harding from which 
the stamp was made. Here, in two or three nutshells, are 
instructions for making a one-stamp collection, one which 
will command the respect and some day the dollars of high- 
ranking philatelists. 

There are albums in which the drawings and supple- 
mentary information lettered on the pages are culturally, 
scientifically or historically so important that one wishes 
they might be saved in some museum or library for the 
future use of persons doing research; for there is informa- 
tion here which as we have remarked in the instance of 
Holcombe's match and medicine collection is the result 
of years of patient research through every species of the 
printed word; information which others could not get with- 
out even greater labor and patience, and which, half a 
century hence, will be much harder to find, if, indeed, it 
is not lost entirely. 

Sometimes these collections do go into museums; as for 
example, that of Alpheus B. Slater, who died in 1936, of 
the Providence postmaster stamps. He had them in all the 
possible forms original sheets, blocks, on covers, likewise 
proofs and reprints. There were old pictures of the post 
office in Providence which was in service in 1846-47, por- 
traits of the postmaster, Welcome B. Sayles, who issued 
them, even a portrait of the engraver who made the plate. 
Here was something as nearly approximating completion as 
one could get of a stamp so old; and at Mr. Slater's death, 
it passed, intact forever, into the possession of the Rhode 
Island Historical Society. 

As an example of the care with which these collectors 
ascertain and record the facts, take Philip H. Ward, Jr/s, 


collection of Panama, all issues, including wash drawings, 
essays, proofs and the finished stamps in all possible group- 
ings, constituting a history of the designing and manufac- 
ture of the stamps from the preliminary sketch to the fin- 
ished article. Or, in another category, take the air-mail col- 
lection of L. Russell Albright of Newark, Delaware, in 
which each envelope is accompanied by an outline map, 
sometimes covering half a dozen states, with lines showing 
its carriage by air, rail and truck blue lines for air, red for 
rail, green for truck. 

For rare historic value, look at the Cook Islands collec- 
tion of Professor L. L. Steimley of the University of Illinois, 
in which the pages are beautified with photographs of those 
lush tropic isles, of cocoa palms, of chiefs of Raratonga 
from old paintings, of other native types. Lettered on the 
pages is really a full history of the islands, telling of the 
attempts of the missionary John Williams to discover Rara- 
tonga, having heard of it from the Society Island natives, 
and of his final discovery of it in 1822, with everything of 
importance that followed thereafter. 

The Martinique collection of Ralph Holtsizer of Phila- 
delphia is another notable achievement. Here in nine al- 
bums is almost a history of the island, beginning back in 
the pre-stamp days. In addition to the varieties, overprints, 
errors, complete sheets, proofs, essays, postal stationery 
and so on, one sees here pitiful hints of the awful devasta- 
tion of the island by Mont Pelee in 1902 postmarks of 
little towns which disappeared forever, some whose post 
offices began functioning again only after three, five or six 
years. The pages are decorated with pen drawings of scen- 
ery, palm trees, churches, ruins, native types, studies of 
heads, fishermen bringing their haul up from the water. 

In building such collections, any document, clipping, 


pamphlet or picture that has reference to any of the stamps 
should not be permitted to escape if it comes near enough 
for the collector to grab it, and certain others should be 
sought for until they are found. If one is making a British 
collection, it is desirable to accompany the Penny Black 
with the Parliamentary Postage Acts of 1839 and '40, either 
originals or reprints. Samples of the printed envelopes dis- 
cussed in the commissioners' report of 1837 would also 
be valuable. Similarly, photostat or other copies of our first 
Congressional Acts for the printing and use of stamps 
should accompany a good collection of early Americans. 
And there are other things to be picked up at sight, such 
as an item in Mr. Lichtenstein's British Columbia collec- 
tionthe certificate by a committee of the destruction of 
half a million dollars' worth of demonetized stamps, "this 
day destroyed by fire in our presence, with the exception of 
sixty (60) of each Denomination preserved as specimens." 

The point toward which we are driving in these descrip- 
tions is that some day, when these collections are put up at 
auction, wealthy bidders will compete for them, with the 
result that the men who assembled them or their estates- 
will be well paid, not only for the stamps and the com- 
plementary documents, but for the hours and days of de- 
lightful toil required in searching for them and for the his- 
torical and other data bearing upon them, for the planning 
of the album pages and the slow building of them into a 
beautiful and compendious whole. It has all been fun; one 
of the few varieties of hard work in this world which are 
also good fun; and if properly and carefully done, you get 
paid for it! 

Unwearied vigilance and search are the price of success 
in stamp collecting. Arthur H. Deas, President of the Col- 
lectors Club of New York, tells how, a few years ago, he 


took his little daughter out for a walk before breakfast 
each morning in their home town, Mount Vernon, which 
adjoins New York City on the north. At a corner they 
would, just for fun, toss a coin to see which way they 
would turn; and as they went along, Mr. Deas would stop 
at each house and ask the denizens if they had any old 
letters or documents from which he might buy the stamps. 
Not so many summers back, two other New York collectors 
went for a motor trip the full length of Long Island along 
the south shore, stopping at every old house they saw 
and there are plenty of them, especially up around the 
Hamptons and Sag Harbor and finding many fine old 
stamps ranging from 1871 back to the beginning, as well as 
some old foreign ones, for many of the ancestors out that 
way had been seafaring folk. 

If you collected stamps as a youngster thirty, forty, fifty 
years ago and then ceased, but still have your album, it may 
be that you have items in it which are now worth many 
times what you paid for them. A little girl exhibited her 
album in a hobby show in New York recently, and was 
scarcely less amazed than were the judges when they found 
in it stamps worth several thousand dollars. Her father con- 
fessed that he had bought the album with most of the 
stamps in it at an auction years ago for a hundred dollars, 
and hadn't realized how valuable the collection was. 

The final fact, and one of the most important to be 
pondered by the one who is not yet a stamp collector, is 
that even if you are somewhat of a dilettante at the hobby, 
even if you do not build a supercollection of rarities or one 
of the highly specialized and documented ones which we 
have just described, there is no hobby now engaging the 
attention of man which has as great a salvage assurance as 


This book could not have been written without the ac- 
tive aid of good fellows such as Hugh M. Clark, Hiram 
E. Beats, Percy B. Doane, James T. Dye, Henry W. Hoi- 
combe, Edward S. Knapp, Harry M. Konwiser, Harry L. 
Lindquist, Elliott Perry, George B. Sloane, John D. Stanard, 
Norman Serphos, Philip H. Ward, Jr., and Harold D. Wat- 
son, all of whom contributed much time and information 
or gave or lent pictures, books, covers, and data from their 
collections. Among others who co-operated in one way and 
another were Edward Stern, Sidney F. Barrett, J. Murray 
Bartels, Alfred F. Lichtenstein, Morris Herbert, Miss Jean 
Koor, and the officials and staff of the Collectors Club. 
The privilege of research, not only in the New York Public 
Library, but in the private libraries of the Scott Stamp and 
Coin Company and the Collectors Club, was invaluable. 


Ackerman, E. R., 48, 65 Arrow pairs, 60 

Adams, John, 225, 256, 260, Arsenius, Frederick, 287 

263 Ashburton, Lord, 11 

Advertising, 22, 23, 246, 320, Atlantic Air Mail stamps 

3 21 ( J 939)> 133 

"Affiches," 17 Auction, stamp, first, 42 

Air mail, 8, 9, 67, 157, 302, Australia, 62, 147, 149, 274 

321, 333, 334, 338 Austria, 56, 271, 272, 276 

Albrecht, R. F., 111 Ayer, F. W., 55, 143-145, 326 

Albright, L. Russell, 338 

Albums, 22, 28, 32, 34, 36, Bailey, John, 27 

337, 339, 340 Balloon mail, 303, 304 

American Bank Note Com- Balzac, Le Cousin Pons, 17 

pany, 68, 80 Barham, Ingoldsby Legends, 

American Cyclopedia, 43 13 

American Journal of Philately, Barrett, Sidney F., 234 

30-35, 42, 55, 74, 107, 181- Bartels, J. Murray, 236 

183, 207-209, 252, 288, 294; Belgium, 16, 17, 155, 279, 281, 
"Roll of Dishonor," 183- 285, 287, 320 

185 Benjamin, Alfred, 210, 211 

American Philatelic Associa- Bennett, James Gordon, 103, 
tion, 46-48, 111, 136 181, 182 

American Stamp Mercury, 31, Berger-Levrault, Oscar, 21, 50, 

34> 39> 4 1 5 1 

American Whig Review, 11 Berthold, Dr. Victor M., 306 

Anderberg, August, 238, 240, Bishopp, Henry, 224 

241 Blackwood's Magazine, 19 

Anti-Surcharge Association, Blair, J. Insley, 64, 65 

59 Bogert, Rudolphus R., 45, 46, 

Appleton (D.) & Company, 48, 59, 111, 112, 172 

28 Bogert & Durbin, 117-119, 165 




Booty, artist, 22 

Bopeley, Joseph L., 292 

Boscawen stamp, 143, 146 

Boston Daily Advertiser, 18, Caiman, Henry, 59, 108, 186, 

Cachets, 9, 222, 303, 306 
Caiman, Gus B., 108, 117, 186, 

21, 28 


"Boston Revenue Book," 146, Camoys of Henley, Lord, 55 

2 95 
Bourne, Herbert, 70 

Bourse, Paris stamp, 51, 52, 

3 2 9 
Boutwell, George S., 291 

Bradt, S. B., 46, 47 

Canada, 48, 144, 165, 181, 280, 
285; sixpence, 37, 122, 166; 
twelvepence, 37, 166 

Cancellations, 67, 74, 226-247, 

Cape of Good Hope, 62, 147, 

Brattleboro postmaster provi- 151 
sional (1845), 62, 148, 162, Carol, King of Roumania, 135, 

178, 179, 234 

Brazil, 16, 205, 273, 276, 2! 
Brennan, dealer, 27 

Carpenter, Joseph R., 289-295 

Carrier stamps, 109, 117, 118 

British American, 62, 148, 153 Casey, John J., 32, 33, 45 
British colonials, 64, 68, 146, Castle, M. P., 64 


Catalogues, first, 21, 22, 27, 

British Columbia, 244, 245, 37, 157, 331 

Central America, 135, 186, 

2 79> 339 
British Guiana, 9, 42, 66, 139, 187, 190 

140, 143, 149, 206, 332 Champion, Theodore, 198, 


Chancy, C. B., 78 
Change Alley, 23, 24 

Brown, Mrs. Edith Adams, 

276, 280 

Brown, Mount, 22 
Brown, Stephen D., 159, 333 
Brown, W. P., 27, 28, 109-111 Chase, Dr. Carroll, 62, 63, 66 
Bruckmann, Kasper E., 284 Chicago Inter-Ocean, 48 

Chicago Morning News, 48 
Chicago Times, 48 

Chappell, Alonzo, 79 

Brunei, Sultan of, 192, 193 

Burger, A. H. E., 48 

Burger, August and Artur, 113- Children, collections by, 276, 

115 277, 325, 326, 328, 329, 340 

Chittenden, Dr. J. Brace, 32 

Butler & Carpenter, 289-295 
Bye, George W., 243 
Byrd Antarctic stamp, 81 

City Hall Park, New York, 29, 
98, 101, 105, 155 



Civil War, 22, 28, 104, 291, 

3 1 3-3 1 7 

Clark, Hugh M., 313-317 
Clark, Mrs. Hugh M., 275 
Clark, Thomas, 55 
Cleveland, Grover, 254, 263, 


Cole, Dr. Philip G., 333 
Collectors Club of New York, 

57, 108, 277, 333, 339 
Collector's Club Philatelist, 

Davis, Frederick W., 160 
Dealers, stamp (see Stamp 


Deas, Arthur H., 339, 340 
Deats, Hiram E., 57, 60, 145, 

289, 290, 295 
de Coppet, F., 42 
De Pinedo, 221 
De Witt, Lockman and De 

Witt, 102, 103 
Dexter, G., 28 
Columbian stamps (1893), 86, Diaz > Porfirio 135, 136 

87, 144, 326, 334 Dies > 6 9'7 2 > 82 > 226 ; P roofs > 

Commemorative stamps, 10, 79 2 
35, 49, 76-79, 81, 98, 195- Doane > Perc Y : 112 > "9> 12 
198, 200, 204, 222, 325-327 Dockwra, William, 224, 225 
Confederate envelopes, 313- Dominican Republic, 187, 188, 
315; stamps, 28, 55, 92, 142, 285 

Dull, Christian, 66 
Dunbar, Seymour, 302, 303 
Durbin, L. W., 160 
Durbin and Hanes, 45, 46 
Duveen, H. J., 66, 143, 146 

146, 147, 328, 331 
Cook Islands, 338 
Cooper, Sir Daniel, 53 
Corner cards, 309-313 
Corwin, Charles B., 42, 57 
Counterfeits, 34, 38, 39, 41, 

42, 45, 60, 117, 118, 183, 

Crawford, Earl of, 38, 69, 75, 

76, 134, 146 
Creswell, Postmaster-General, 


Crocker, Henry J., 66, 147-149 
Crocker, William H., 66, 147- 

Cromwell, Mrs. Caroline Pren- 

tiss, 65, 146 
Cuba, 214, 217, 222 
Curie, Charles, 65 

Dye, James T., 322-324 

Earhart, Amelia, 220, 221 
Ecuador, 188, 189, 191, 207 
Eden Musee, 48 
Edward VIII, King, 134, 138, 

i39> 2 77 
Emerson, Robert S., 334 

England (see Great Britain) 
Envelopes, 58, 71, 72, 104, 
125, 199, 202, 203, 257, 309- 

3*7> 339 
Express mail, 303, 307-309 

346 INDEX 

Faber, William H., 26 Gold Rush (1849), 228, 235, 

Farley, James B., 81, 82, 86, 241, 309 

204, 222, 223, 284 Governmental five-and-tens, 

Ferrary, Phillippe la Renotiere 180-205 

von, 52-55, 142, 146, 210- Gramm, Charles F., 238 

212; sale, 139-141 Grant, Ulysses S., 43 

Filatelic Facts and Fallacies, Great Britain, 2, 4, 11-25, fy> 

86, 196 13^ l8 9> 210, 226, 248-250, 

First-day covers, 6, 9, 202, 222 289; colonies, 137; first 

Fiscals, first, 288-293 stamps, 13-15, 67; postal sys- 

France, 5, 6, 10, 22, 54, 55, tem ( l66o )> 2 4 8 > <<Penn Y 

59, 90, 91, 282, 320; com- Black " ( l8 4)> 6l > l66 > l8o > 

memoratives, 198, 273; first 2o6 > 2 5> 339; stam P tax 

stamps, 16, 17 ( X 7 6 5)^ 28 9 

Frankings, 248-269, 317, 318, Green, Colonel Edward H. R., 

6 *49> 1 5- 1 59^ 334 

Franklin, Benjamin, 75, 81, 98- Gremmel Henry, 111 

100? 26o Guatemala, 43, 135, 186, 190, 

Franco-Prussian War, 50, 303 2 7 ' 2 8 
Franks, 55, 224, 244, 252-269; 

western, 307-309, 334 ^ ^ 'ff 

^ 1.1 n r ^ Handshaw, J. E., 92, 108, 190 

Gamble, Dr. Thomas O., 317 Hard; Be J rtita ^ J 

C^atun Locks oroofs 80 T^I ^^ 

Gelbach John J 280 ^^ W ~ C ^ j^ ^ 

George V, King, 62, 134, 136- 

139, 141, 326 Harman, Martin Coles, 321 

George VI, 327 Hausberg, Leslie, 62 

Germany, 215, 240, 274-276; Hawaii, 18, 120, 147, 192, 206, 

music, 272 22 g 2 _2 

Gibbons, E. Stanley, 21, 55 Hawaiian missionaries, 142, 

Gibbons, Stanley, Ltd., 36, 55, 143,. 177 

64, 136, 144; catalogue, 157 Hawkins, William E., 65, 159, 

Ginnity, stamp finder, 116-118 160 

Glover, Irving, 204 Heath, Lloyd, 277-280 

Godkin, Editor New York Heinemann, Andrew, Billy 

Evening Post, 184 and Jack, 61, 62 



Hemingway, 168, 169 

Herpin, G., 24 

Herrick, Dr., 293, 294 

Hill, Rowland, 13, 14, 40, 206 King and Johl, 78, 81, 82 

Hind, Arthur, 55, 64, 65, 140- Kleeman, John, 111 

Holcombe, Henry W., 297 

3 01 > 337 
Holtsizer, Ralph, 338 Kroog, 119-122 

Honduras, 186, 188, 191, 285, Kuenstler, Hugo, 92 

Kilton, Hen, 123-130 
Kimmel, F. K., 104 
King, Beverly S., 79, 81 

Knapp, Edward S., 309-313 
Konweiser, Harry, 66, 141, 

Hoover, Herbert, 136 

Lallier, Justin, 22 

Hudson, Dr. Otho G, 282, Lamborn, Arthur H., 146 


Hughes-Hughes, W., 36, 50 
Hungerford, Edward, 235 
Hunter, F. W., 111 

Image, Dr. W. E., 54 
Imperf orates, 56, 291, 334 
Indian Territory, 66, 244 

Lawrance, Frank E., 317, 318 

Leavy, Joseph, 155 

Lederer, Howard, 336 

Legrand, Dr. J. A. ("Dr. Mag- 
nus"), 56 

Letters, folded, 257, 258 

Lichtenstein, Alfred, 147, 245, 
308, 310, 339 

Inverts (1869), 132, 135, 149, Leisure Hour7 l6 

160, 190, 196, 333 
Ireland, 239, 274 
Italy, 69, 198, 214, 215, 221, 

304, 320, 321; Stradivarius 

stamps,, 273 

Jackson, Andrew, 76, 102, 182, 

2 55 
Japan, 135, 147, 238, 319 

Jefferson, Thomas, 128, 259 
Johl, Max G., 79 
Jones, Gilbert E., 57 
Journals, stamp, 30, 31, 38-41; Condon Times 15 
first, 211 Longnecker, J. W., 269 

Luff, John N., 59, 66, 111, 197 
Kennett, William C., 141, 143 Lundy Island, 321 
Kent, Philip, 17 Luxemburg, first stamps, 27 

Lever, Charles, 19, 20 
Lienau, R. S., 87 

Abraham, 103, 

263, 336; Civil 

War envelopes, 315-317; 

commemorative (1909), 76 
Lindbergh, Charles A., 303 
Lindquist, H. L., 239 
London, 15, 19, 22-24, 143, 

163, 210 
London Morning Post, 95 

348 INDEX 

Macklin, John J., match stamp, Milliken, Edwin, 236 

294 "Mission mixtures," 88-97 

McKinley, William, 75, 253, Moens, J. B., 17, 37, 168 

263, 266 Mulready letter sheet, 13, 14 
Madison, Dolly, 259, 265, 268 

Madison, James, 259, 260, 261 Nassau Street, 98-115, 116-133, 
Magazines, stamp, 34, 40, 41, 151 

46, 63; first, 19, 22 National Bank Note Com- 
"Magnus, Dr." (Dr. J. A. Le- pan y, 291 

grand), 56 National Philatelic Society, 45 

Mandel, Henry G., 66 National stamps, five- and ten- 
Mann > 6 4 cent (1847), 106 

Map stamps, 285 Needham, Henry Q, 48 

Marie, Queen of Roumania, Negre en, John F., 132 

A/ 3 1 ixrii 17 NCW Bmns wick, 37, 139, 276 

Marsh, Will E 40 New Orleans Picayune 30 ' 

Martin, E. Bradley, Jr., 148, New South 

AT 3 ! 2 ' - 333 11 .- 282, 283; "Sydney Views," 

Martinique collection, 228 o 

\x i. ^ 1 47^ J 4^ l8 ^ 211 

Match stamps, 114, 204, 207- XT T/ TT? ~.' n 

J y/ New York City, 57, 98-115, 
3 01 > 337 
Mauritius, one- and two- 

penny, 9, 16, 18, 37, 47, 14*, 

Maximilian, Emperor, issues, New York Philatelic Society, 

135 30-32, 34> 184 

Mead, James M., 136 New York Sun ' 35^ 73^ 99 
Mekeel, C. H., 167, 191, 213; 10 3 

Stamp and Publishing Com- New York Time ^ 3 6 ^ 57> 75 

pany, 49; Stamp Collector, X 45^ 33 

64; Weekly Stamp News, New York Tribune, 99, 111 

197, 328 New York World, 99, 162 

Melville, Fred J, 70, 210, 211 Ne w York World's Fair, 198, 
Metropolitan Philatelist, New 205, 322 

York, 26 New Zealand, 282, 287, 304, 
Mexican Philatelic Society, 220 320 

Mexico, 73, 135, 191, 209, 213, Newbold, Mr., 121-123, 1 7 2 ? 

275, 280-282 173 

INDEX 349 

Newfoundland, 43, 86, 87, 139, Patent royalty stamps, 300, 301 

181, 195, 219, 277, 287 Patriotics, Civil War, 313, 314 

Newspapers, 12; stamps (1875- "Penny Black," 61, 180, 206, 

95), 173, 174, 288 250, 339 

Nicaragua, 87, 182, 188, 189, Perforations, 56, 57, 59, 63, 74 

213, 285 Perkins, Jacob, 68 

Norway, 197, 239, 328 Perkins, Bacon & Fetch, 68 

Nova Scotia, 37, 139 Perry, Elliott, 94, 95, 177, 178 

Nye, Bill, 15 Philadelphia Centennial 

(1876), 185, 272 

Obelisk, Central Park, 43, 44 Philatelic Agency, 193, 203, 

O'Dowd, Cornelius, 19 2O . 

Offenbach, La Belle Helene, philatelic Bluebook, 287 

35 Philatelic Journal of America, 

Olympic Games series, 81, 195 ^ 

Overprinting, 59, 73, 74 Philatelic Library, The, 38 

Philatelic Monthly, c6, 200 

Pack, Charles Lathrop, 62, p hihtelic World> ?8 

X 39' M 6 Philately, development, 28- 

Paderewski^ stamp, 273^ ^ mm ^ ^ ^ y , premier 

HnS SzetZ^Jgi 77 WOrM h bb y' '* S3lva S e as ' 

Pan-American series (1901), ^"^"f ' T 34 ? 

78 152 160 106 Philbnck, Judge, 53, 54 

PaSma! 8 7 : ^8 Philli P S ' CharleS I- ^^ 

Panama^c series (^ ^^^^ *> 

Paper^ thicknesses, 56, 63 Pickard ' Mr " 33^ 

Paris, 14, 24, 130; balloon P^torials, 49, 55, 180, 181, 

envelopes (1870-71), 303; 270-287 

Bourse, stamp, 51, 52, 329; Piercv > Marv K -> 286 

Revolution, 244; stamp col- Pinkham, F. H., 190 

lectors, 51, 52; "submarine Plating, 56, 61-63 

mail," 307 Plympton Manufacturing 

Parliamentary Postage Acts, Company, 71, 72 

339 Post cards, 42, 43, 57, 125, 127, 

Patent medicine stamps, 293, 128 

294-208, 337 Post offices, 106, 107, 173, 174. 

350 INDEX 

(See also United States Post Reprints, 45, 49, 183 

Office) Revenue stamps, 55, 56, 74, 

Postage, early, 11-25 93> 1X 9 121 > 1 4^ 1 7 1 ? 2 ^~ 

Postage-due stamps, 173, 203 300, 317, 334; first American 

Postal miscellany, 318-322 catalogue, 289 

Postmarks, 67, 224-247; adver- RFD covers, 242, 243 

tising, 246, 247; first, 224- Rich, Stephen G., 313 

226; RFD, 243; railroads Richardson, A. J. H., 244 

and steamboat lines, 235; Ricketts, William R., 28 

towns changing names, 238- Ridgley, A. N., 192 

241 Robey, W. T., 157, 158 

Postmaster stamps, 106, 117, Rocky Mountain Stamp, 325 

147, 162, 163, 166, 167, 172, Roosevelt, Franklin EX, 81, 

176, 177, 334 136, 201, 202, 204, 284 

Postmasters, cancellations, 227, Roosevelt, Theodore, 254, 263, 

228; franks, 269 285 

Potiquet, Alfred, 21 Roosevelt, Mrs. Theodore, 267 

Powers, Eustace, 170, 171 Roumania, 183, 240, 277, 281 

Precanceling, 73, 245, 246 Russell & Company, 117, 118 

Price lists, 30, 32, 45; first, 21, Russia, 18, 35, 152, 206, 216, 

30; first American, 28 238-240, 274 
Proofs, stamp, 69, 70 

Propaganda envelopes, 311, St. Helena, 191 

312 St. Louis, 169, 303, 334 

Proprietary stamps, 293-300 St. Louis Times, 46 

Provisional stamps, 57, 106 Salisbury, Henry Wood, 281, 

Pullen collection, 42 282 

Punch, 16, 321 Salvador, 188, 191 

San Francisco, 198, 285, 318, 

Radasch, Dr. H. E., 303 319 

Railroad postmarks, 235 San Marino, 193 

Randall, Postmaster-General, Sanford, E. Harrison, 62 

106, 107 Sarabia, 220 

Rawdon, Wright, Hatch & Ed- Sardinia, letter sheets, 14 

son, 70, 71 Sardou, Famille Benoiton, 328 

Religions, collections, 280-282 Sarpy, J. H., 210, 211 

Remainders, 45, 49, 183, 186, Saxony, three-pfennige, 37 

188 Sayles, Welcome B., 337 


35 1 

Scales, first stamp collector, 17 Soviet Philatelic Association, 
Scott, John Walter, 29-37, 48, 216 

59, 89, 100, 107, 108, 146, Spain, 142, 184, 208, 282; war 

186, 189, 191; album, 28, with (1898), 299, 300, 313, 

32, 34; catalogue, 37, 157, ^ 317 

331; price list, 30; first stamp Special-delivery stamp, 79-81 

auction, 42. (See also Ameri- Specialization, 6, 50-67, 144, 

can Journal of Philately) *4 6 > 3 26 

Scott, Walter S., 63, 111, 212 Stamp collecting, 9, 46, 49; 
Scott Stamp & Coin Co., 108, ear ty> 2 '4> 1 5~ 1 9> 2 &, modern, 

117, 186, 187 
Seebeck, N. F., 187-191 
Sellschopp, W., 57 
Serbia, provisional, 192 
Serphos, Norman, 303, 304 
Seward, William H., 82 
Seybold, John F., 57, 58 

6-9; value, 8, 9, 325 
Stamp Collector's Magazine, 

19, 182, 270 

Stamp Collectors Manual, 22 
Stamp Collector's Review, 19, 

Stamp dealers, first, 24-27, 41, 

45, 51, 52, 64, 67, 102-115, 

133, 147, 159, 163, 210 
Stamp exchange, open-air, 23, 

24, 51, 52, 329 
Stamp Exchange, The, 40 
Stamp finders, 116-133 
Stamp list, first, 50 

Ship mail, 235-237 
Silby, W. T, 70 
Singer, Sam, 130-133 
Sketches, and drawings, 69, 79- 


Slater, Alpheus B., 337 

Sloane, George B., 77, 201, 1111 *' t^ "" > w 
s s,. & ' ' ' Stamp Lover, The, 210 

246, 266, 202, 2Q2, 31Q, 22O o . , r / o/r \ 

c -V T> Vk V j o Stamp peddler, first (1860), 

Smith, R. Ostrander, 75, 80, r 

r Stamped envelopes, 58, 71, 

Smollett, Humphrey Clinker, 12 5 12 g 

Q 2 ^.' v A r- ^ T Stam P ed P a per, fiscals, 288- 
Societe Fran^aise de Timbrol- .5 

c ^ f ? 4 . Stamps, 15, 16, 56, 67, 125- 

Society for the Suppression of ^ 22 g ? 22Q? 335; adhes i ve , 

Speculative Stamps, 189 first? ^ ^.^ Iy6? 2o6; 

Solomon, Burnes, 280 ear l y? 1]L . 25 . recent sa j es? 

Sotheby, 42 333-335; repair, 130-133; 

South America, 62, 66, 135, stages in making, 68-70, 79, 



35 2 


Stamps, 77, 78, 141, 195, 204, Tiffany, John K., 26, 38, 46, 

239, 292, 303 47, 55, 146 

Stanard, John D., 321 Tiffany, Louis Comfort, 79 

Standard Catalogue (1940), 'Timbres postes," 17; Cata- 

333 logue, 21 

States, cover collections, 242- Timbromanie, 10, 19 

Toaspern, Herman, 169, 170 
Travers, 84-86 


Steimley, L. L., 338 
Steinway, Theodore E., 146, Trenton Match Company 

313; music collection, 271- stamps (1881), 114 


Sterling, E. B., 47, 289-295 
Stern, Edward, 108, 253-256, 

259-262, 268, 269, 318 
Stevenson, Robert Louis, 141, 

Stiles, Kent B., 330-332 

Trifet, Ferdinand Marie, 31- 

34, 39-41, 212 
Triumph Stamp Company, 41, 

Trollope, Anthony, John Cal- 

digate, 44, 45 
Turner carrier stamp, 118 

Street-car cancellations, 236, Tuttle, Arthur, 112 


Tuttle, George R., 63, 112 

Surcharges, 45, 53, 59, 63, 73; Tyler, John, 261, 262 

faked, 210; first, 300 
Swapper, The, 4 
Switzerland, 16, 54, 273, 275 
"Sydney Views," 147, 148, 180, 


Taft, William H., 104, 263, 

264, 285, 318 

Tapling, Thomas K., 9, 10, 54 
Taxis stamps, 27 
Taylor, S. Allan, 29, 211, 212 
Tea Party stamps, 289 
Telegraph stamps, 174, 175, 

V7> 3 l8 
Tennyson, Alfred, Lord, 35 

Texas Republic, 244 
Thorne, William, 65, 66, 148 
Thurn, stamps, 27 

Typex sheet (1936), 327, 328 

United States, 12, 17-19, 55, 
69, 142, 144, 146, 181, 195- 
197, 204, 222, 285; attitude 
toward collectors, 199-204; 
early stamps, 16, 70, 148, 
169, 171, 224, 225; (1847), 
124, 125, 166, 184; (1851), 
63, 160; (1869), 93, 160, 173, 
336; postmarks, first, 225, 
226; revenues, 55, 56, 119, 
121, 148, 171 

United States Board on Geo- 
graphic Names, 243 

United States City Despatch 
Post, 176 

United States Post Office De- 



partment, 70, 71-75, 82-87, 260, 264, 284, 336; check, 

125, 126, 185, 199-201, 228, 318; commemorative stamp 

238, 260 (1755), 76 

United States Bureau of En- Washington, D. C., 225, 226 

graving and Printing, 60, 69- Waterbury, cancellations, 234 

80, 157, 291 Watermarks, 56, 57, 59, 63 

United States Stamp Com- Watson, Charlie, 29, 32, 33 

pany, 30 Watson, George H., 57 

Unperforated stamps, 57 Watson, Harold D., 65, 89, 
Unused stamps, 65, 159 171, 172 

Used stamps, 6, 26, 57, 65, 88, Webster's Dictionary, 43 

89; collecting a million, 88- Wells Fargo, 308, 334 

97; on covers, 189; for dec- Western Philatelist, Chicago, 

oration, 44, 90; on entire 27 

envelope, 57-59 Wilhelmina, Queen, 134, 275 

Williams, Ben Ames, 163 
Wilson, Sir John, 139 

Vanderbilt, William H., 43 
Variations, 56, 59 
Vaughn, L. Vernon, 140 
Victoria, Queen, 14, 68, 69, 

276; jubilee, 283 
Victoria collection, 62 
Viner, Dr. C. W., 17 

Wilson, Thomas E., 296 
Wilson, Woodrow, 254, 264, 


Wilson, Mrs. Woodrow, 266, 

Wilson's (Rev. E. A.), 298, 


Wolsieffer, P. M., 160 
Worthington, George H., 66 
Wytheville, Va., 30 

Wanamaker, John, 74, 326 
War (1914-18), 54, 313, 330 
War (1940), effect on phi 

lately, 328-33 
Ward, Cornelia C., 282 
Ward, Philip H., Jr., 253, 254, Young England, 2 

257, 258, 263-268, 337, 338 Young Ladies' Journal, 20, 21 
Warren, Whitney, 79 
Washington, George, 75, 77, Zeppelin mail, 304-307; covers, 

79, 98, 124, 125, 256, 258- 67